Sweet Wintersweet

Chimonanthus praecox

Chimonanthus praecox

So beautiful outlined against a (rare!) blue sky! The photo doesn’t do it justice, I’m afraid!

My Chimonanthus praecox was one of the first acquisitions for my scented shrub border when we started the garden about twenty years ago. Just as well, considering this plant’s reputation for taking many years to flower. After about three to four years, it slowly started to release both its blooms and its wonderful scent.

Like the Lonicera, it is not much to look at throughout the year. It is somewhat sprawling, and benefits from being trained against a wall or fence. This provides a bit of shelter for it, as well as keeping it tidy. The large pale green leaves,somewhat rough to the touch, droop from the branches in summer, but it is the flowers which burst from the bare stems in winter, which are the great delight. The small, drooping yellow flowers are often described as waxy, and have a wine/purple blotch at the base of the petals. If you can get up close, they emit a wonderful scent – rich and spicy! (Isn’t it really difficult to describe scent? It’s a very personal thing!)

Unfortunately, it’s getting up close that’s proving difficult now. When we had to replace the fence panels a few years ago, my poor, nurtured wintersweet had to be cut back in places in the process. Boy, did it sulk, with no flowers the following year! But it’s hung on, and this year has started flowering again, albeit rather sparsely. It has become somewhat gangly, and the prized flowers are out of reach, as you can see from my photo. I must get the secateurs and pruning manual out for a bit of t.l.c.!

However, all is not lost! They are still within cutting distance, so I’ve been able to cut a stem to bring indoors.


And this brings me on to my next “thing”! I’ve set myself a challenge to have a constant indoor display of flowers and clippings from the garden. My wonderful milk bottles, which you may have already been introduced to, got me thinking. I’ve already made a start, with my first display of Sarcococca. I will aim to post as many as possible, and I want to choose a favourite for each month – hence “The Cuttings Calendar”! So your comments and ideas will be most welcome! (Hope they’re nice!)

So watch this space!

5 thoughts on “Sweet Wintersweet

  1. Chloris

    Chimonanthus praecox is wonderful. It does get quite big and ungainly though. I have noticed it hates being pruned. Mine got coral spot at the site of each cut. I love your idea of having a constant vase of something in the house. I always do in winter but once it gets warmer I forget about it. I shall make an effort too this year.

    1. thelonggardenpath Post author

      I have never really pruned it before, other than the occasional removal of stray branches, so will take your comment on board and be very careful. Thank you. As for our vases, we must compare notes! Be warned, though, it will be small steps at first, from this novice! “Vases” may be a slight exaggeration!

  2. Annette

    This is one of my favourite shrubs for scent -jasmine for me, delicious!- and I have planted one in my shrub border last year (this is my new garden). I was amazed and thrilled to see 4 flowers on it already this winter as I was prepared to wait. I intend to prune it so that it doesn’t outgrow its space. As it’s surrounded by lots of other beauties (Hibiscus, Lagerstroemia, Callicarpa…) which provide interest throughout the year its rather humble appearance is no problem.


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