Scent in the Garden

Chimonanthus praecox

Chimonanthus praecox

I am joining in with Louise at Wellywoman and Sue at Backlane Notebook with their new meme about Scent in the Garden.

Well, I couldn’t really avoid it!

As anyone who follows my blog regularly will know, I have a passion for scent in the garden, especially scented shrubs and climbers. A scented shrub border was the first border we planted when we first moved here, over 20 years ago. It has been much modified since then and my shopping list shows no sign of diminishing. They are now spilling over into other planting areas in the garden – wherever is available!

The aim is to have scented shrubs in flower all through the year – a continuous feast for the nasal senses!

The winter months can be rich in scented shrubs, so many have obviously found their way into the border. That makes February a good month for me to start.

I think the most delightful one at the moment is Chimomanthus praecox, pictured at the top of the post. This year, after an enforced bit of pruning resulting in a poor display last year, it has come out this winter with its best display yet. Sheer heaven, it was today, trying to photograph it. Looking up into those tiny yellow bells, with their purple “stained glass” centres, dotted against a brilliant, clear blue sky, was breathtaking, but difficult to capture. A gentle breath of wind insisted in moving the stems just at the point of focussing, leading to several blurred images. But the compensation was the gorgeous, spicy perfume wafting down. I’ve never noticed it so strong before. Often, I had to bury my nose in the blooms to appreciate it.

Now, giving this a run for its money are the Sarcococcas or Christmas Box.

Sarcococca humilis

Sarcococca humilis

Sarcococca confusa

Sarcococca confusa

Sarcococca hookeriana digyna

Sarcococca hookeriana digyna

We have several different species in the garden. I just love them! Their delicious honey scent is so strong that it follows you round the garden, often catching you unawares. After all, the flowers are rather inconspicuous buried in the shiny, evergreen leaves. I think S. digyna has the prettiest flowers with their pink stalks. They are so easy to grow, and, being small and managable, they are easily slotted into any available space. We have two others – Sarcococca orientalis and Sarcococca ruscifolia – but, as they were only planted last year, they have yet to flower significantly.

We also have a couple of winter flowering honeysuckles.

Lonicera fragrantissima

Lonicera fragrantissima

The flowers have seemed a bit sparse this year but their delicate perfume – like lemonade! – may be my favourite (well, one of them!)

Lonicera purpusii

Lonicera purpusii

This one resides in our front garden hedge, so unfortunately, can get a bit overlooked. Shame, as its flowers have a lovely pink tinge.

Our Mahonia japonica is still going strong.

Mahonia japonica

Mahonia japonica

I thought these were the last of the blooms, but then I took a second look ….

Mahonia japonica

Mahonia japonica

….looks like it’s having a second wind, with what looks much like fresh new sprays just starting to open. And more lily-of-the-valley perfume!

Meanwhile, still going strong in the front garden, is the Coronilla citrina, which has featured in several of my vases since the end of last year.

Coronilla glauca "Citrina"

Coronilla glauca “Citrina”

It’s such a beauty, with its sweetly scented, lemon pea flowers and its pretty glaucous foliage.

Am I allowed to include my latest purchase, even though it’s still in its pot? Well, it’s in the garden and giving me pleasure! So, I think, yes!

Hamamellis mollis  "Imperialis"

Hamamellis mollis “Imperialis”

I’m determined to have a Hamamelis in the garden. What self respecting scented winter garden could be without one? This one I bought just last week, and it will survive! It has a really strong, heady scent with lemon, starry flowers.

But it’s not all about shrubs. This is the Snowdrop season – the time for all Galanthophiles, and so here is my scented offering of Galanthus “S. Arnott”….

image

….both outdoors and in!

What perfumed delights do you have in your garden this month?

Advertisements

24 thoughts on “Scent in the Garden

  1. Julie

    I love the idea of a scented border, what a wonderful starting point. I had not realised Coronilla citron was hardy enough for outside. Sarcoccocas are definitely my plant of the season I love the fragrance outside and indoors.

    Reply
    1. thelonggardenpath Post author

      I agree – the idea of a scented shrub border instantly appealed to me, when I saw the plan in the “John Brookes Garden Book”, which we bought to start us off. Back then, we had no horticultural knowledge whatsoever. It was this plan, too, that was responsible for introducing me to Sarcococcas, one of the other original shrubs we planted. And now, I realise, they are also so good for cutting! Many people have remarked about the hardiness of Coronilla. Ours has survived 3 winters planted in our warm and sunny, South facing front garden. So far, so good!

      Reply
  2. Cathy

    Is there a difference in fragrance between the different sarcoccas? I wondered about adding others – and the Chimomanthus sounds delightful, again something that might end up here too. Good to see one of your new purchases getting another mention!

    Reply
    1. thelonggardenpath Post author

      I must say, they do all smell similar, as well as having similar appearance and habit. So maybe a bit of duplication, but they’re so easy to slot into small gaps. S. digyna does look different, with its purple tints and calyces, and more upright habit. Do consider the Chimonanthus! The perfume is gorgeous, when it eventually starts flowering (it takes a few years to start). Well, I had to include the Hamamelis again – it matched the criteria!

      Reply
      1. kathrynslife

        The critical thing with sarcoccas is working out which ones will survive in your garden. They don’t like cold, wet, heavy soil one bit. I can only grow them in pots – they just need the extra drainage and the warmth of being tucked, south facing, against the house wall. Of course that also means that they can be brought in for a few hours so we can enjoy the scent indoors

  3. wellywoman

    Thank you for joining in. I do love the coronilla and I dream of a chimonanthes. How long did it take for your wintersweet to flower? I’ve heard it can take up to 8 years. Great to see another scented purchase too. 😉

    Reply
    1. thelonggardenpath Post author

      It’s a pleasure to join in and share my love of scented plants. The Chimonanthus (which was on John Brookes’s plan I was following) was one of the first shrubs planted, so I’m afraid I can’t remember how long it took. I knew it would take a few years, which it did, but I don’t recall it being that long. Maybe about 5 years? And sparsely to start with. It improves with age! I do still have my scented purchases, although I do struggle to find space for them now!

      Reply
    2. Chloris

      It took my Chimonanthus 7 years to flower but that was because I grew it from seed. They germinate readily but you have a long wait. Obviously if you buy a mature plant you don’ t have to wait so long. It needs a sheltered position in full sun in order to flower well. It is a bit dull in Summer but I grow a viticella clematis over it.

      Reply
  4. Chloris

    Well, this is just up your street isn’ t it? What a nice range of scented plants you grow. Lovely to see you grow Mahonia japonica, I forgot to mention it, but it is pure lily of the valley isn’t it? So many people buy Mahonia Charity and wonder why it doesn’t have much fragrance.
    I haven’ t got Sarcococca Orientalis, is it just as fragrant as the others?

    Reply
  5. thelonggardenpath Post author

    It most certainly is! It gives me a chance to show them off and share them with others. I’m looking forward to it! The Mahonia looks like tiny daffs and smells of lily-of-the-valley – and flowers for such a long time – and then there’s berries too! As for the Sarcococca orientalis, I don’t know yet. Being new, it only has a few small buds, that have yet to open. I’ll let you know! Here’s to next month!

    Reply
  6. Angie

    When I saw others linking to this meme, I knew you’d have a post and it would be right up your long garden path (that sounds rude, but I don’t mean it too :)).
    I finally got the scent from the Sarcococca yesterday, thanks to all the comments on my bloom day post, I persevered and grabbed my chance when it was warm and sunny.
    I do like the Coronilla but it’s not hardy enough up here for me to give it a go. Nice new Hamamelis – I sniffed this one at a GC the other day, it was lovely.

    Reply
  7. thelonggardenpath Post author

    No, that wasn’t rude in the least! I’ve taken it as a compliment! You must excuse me, Angie, because, for some unknown reason, you’re posts always seem to reach me late. Hence, I am not aware of the comments on your post (I’m sure it’ll arrive soon!). So I hope you enjoyed your Sarcococca perfume, when you got the chance. I doubt if I’d risk Coronilla outdoors in Edinburgh, but it could be grown in a pot to overwinter under cover. And I’m glad you liked the Hamamelis.

    Reply
  8. gardeninacity

    Thank you for the introduction to several fragrant plants I didn’t know of. Where I am you’d have to go inside for any fragrance. Right now the best one is homemade applesauce.

    Reply
  9. Backlane Notebook

    I like the look of the Coronilla glauca ‘Citrina’ so that’s now on the list and I rounded up the scented snowdrop ‘Sam Arnott’ and bought it in the green. I shall need a bigger garden at this rate.

    Reply
  10. thebikinggardener

    It took me three attempts to find a place where hamamelis would thrive. The irony is that the last spot, where my third attempt is growing strongly, was the perfect spot for it but not for me and it is growing too big for the spot already – I didn’t really think I had a chance after two failures! But everything else will have to move to suit it. The scent of sarcococcas really does sneak up on you. Love winter honeysuckles too and I agree that it is fresh and lemony. Nice to see the coronilla which is such a good value plant. And near the top of my list is viburnum ‘Dawn’ – common but deservedly so.

    Reply
  11. thelonggardenpath Post author

    I’m still undecided as to where to plant the Hamamellis. Maybe the spot has still to be created! We have a few Viburnums too, including “Dawn”. I think their flowers smell like baby powder! It sounds like you’ve succumbed to a few scented treasures, as well! 🙂

    Reply
  12. Catherine

    I have just found your blog and really enjoyed reading it. We have moved to a house with a lovely established garden but what it really lacks are scented shrubs which I love. This year I plan to buy a few where I can find space to put them. Its difficult not to get carried away there are so many to choose from! Thank you for giving me some inspiration and some new ideas of shrubs I hadn’t thought of!

    Reply
  13. thelonggardenpath Post author

    Thank you so much, Catherine, for your kind comments! It has become a bit of an obsession, I’m afraid. I find I can’t resist them, and am now struggling for space for them. I fear some other plants may have to be sacrificed, unless they behave! 😉 I’m pleased my blog has given you pleasure and some ideas. I must keep an eye out for your developments!

    Reply
    1. thelonggardenpath Post author

      I see you also love to grow flowers for cutting. (Loved your posy jam jars!) Might I recommend a scented shrub you might like? Pittosporum tenuifolium. It has tiny chocolate brown, honey scented flowers in April. But, maybe, more importantly for you, it has the most beautiful foliage that is perfect for cutting in vases. Some varieties have delicately variegated foliage and beautiful black stems. You may already know it – if so, apologies!

      Reply
  14. Cynthia Reyes

    If I’m lucky, I will have the scent of wet, lumpy grass and mostly rotted leaves on the garden beds.
    If I’m unlucky, it will be the scent of snow.

    Thanks for cheering me up with your garden scenes and scents.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s