Tag Archives: Chimonanthus

Little Vases.

I’ve recently ventured into the world of Instagram and was prompted, by a post, to show off my new set of little vases.

Julie at Peonies and Posies had posted a photo of a similar set of little vases, in white, filled with pure white snowdrops – so beautiful! I thought it was high time to put mine to good use .

Our clumps of snowdrops are now expanding well, with so many blooms available to cut, but I wanted to choose colours more in keeping with the colours in the vases – and I’d already cut some snowdrops for a couple of displays indoors.

The “piece de resistance” had to be the gorgeous dark red of the hellebore “Anna’s Red”, and I wanted to choose colours to complement this. A perfect choice was Chimonanthes praecox, whose colours seem to be the reverse of the hellebore – yellow petals to match the centre of the hellebore, with a wine-red base similar to the colour of Anna’s petals. That also brought in with it, its gorgeous, spicy perfume! Some greenery was needed, along with some pinky-red tones to complement “Anna’s Red”, courtesy of a few sprigs of Skimmia rubella and Sarcococca digyna.

I must say though, that while I love the scent of Sarcococca in the garden, and the way it hits you so unexpectedly, I’m not so sure I’m so keen on the perfume indoors! I also noticed it recently while enjoying Ashwood nursery’s glass house displays of hellebores and winter flowering shrubs, with lots of Sarcococca on show. Never mind, the Chimonanthes wins!

So there we have it! My little vases with complementary dusky shades. A most wonderful pressy!


The Beautiful Calm

There’s something strangely beautiful about this time of year.

I love the calm that follows the hustle and bustle of the festive season. There’s something nice about ” getting back to normal” and that’s finding the time again for other things.

Now I must admit that our stove is more appealing just now than the great outdoors, with this spell of cold, damp, dreary weather, but it’s well worth making the effort. After all the Christmas tree had to be disposed of.

Five minutes with the secateurs reduced the tree to the trunk and the base. Final result is another log to edge my woodland bed and a bit more firewood for aforementioned stove. ( The branches were recycled courtesy of our green recycling bin.)

So now with that job ticked off my “getting back to normal” to-do list, I had my stroll down the long garden path!

It was all looking decidedly damp and disheveled. The winter weather has taken its toll – flattened grasses and a worryingly, sorry-looking Helwingia shrub, which had been doing so well.

But looking past these set backs, all the wonderful signs of regrowth are starting to appear.

The first crocus shoots poking through….

….and the rhubarb (Oops! I need to weed!)…

And of course, the snowdrops nestling alongside an unfurling hellebore – “Anna’s Red” – under the coloured dogwood stems.

And with all the delight of the gorgeous fragrances wafting out from the Lonicera fragrantissima and Chimonanthus praecox (among several others) shown at the top, it was, in all, a most rewarding stroll.

That’s the strange beauty of this time of year.

It’s hard to hibernate when the garden is waking up! 😀

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”….


….both outdoors and in!

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

The Cuttings Calender – February

Snowdrops in a dinky vase

Snowdrops in a dinky vase

I’m ashamed to say, that the contenders for February are a bit thin on the ground. I did keep it going, but there was a large element of repetition. I could blame a lack of cutting material, but it’s more likely to be my lack of imagination.

My other contenders?

Six of the best

Six of the best

“Six of the best” was interesting – a sort of botanical “exercise”! – but some elements of the composition did not last well. It comprised of a single sprig of six winter-flowering shrubs, in each of my milk bottles. Abeliophyllum distichum, Daphne laureola, Chimonanthus praecox, Coronilla “Citrina” and of course, Sarcococca and Lonicera fragrantissima. The smell was wonderful!

Chimonanthus praecox

Chimonanthus praecox

I loved the single sprig of Chimonanthus! I felt it was “understated chic”(!) – Japanese almost! It was simple and long-lasting, as well as fulfilling the original aim of bringing the scent down to nose height.

But the simple beauty of the snowdrops, was the winner. So lovely, to bring the harbinger of spring indoors and be able to appreciate them at eye level.

Six of the best! – a contender


This time, I selected a different sprig for each bottle – a sample of what’s flowering in my garden just now. Sarcococca, of course, with Chimonanthus praecox, and Lonicera fragrantissima, as before. I also found a small sprig of Abeliophyllum distichum, a shrub also known as white forsythia, but with small, delicate, pink-tinged white flowers, with (you’ve guessed!) a lovely delicate scent. Another gem of a shrub, which I am starting to appreciate more, is Daphne laureola. It is a low growing, evergreen shrub, never more than three feet high, with whorls of dark green, leathery leaves. At this time of year the small, unusual green flowers make their appearance, clustered under the leaves. A sprig of this went in, and it’s lasted very well. Last but not least I raided the front garden for a cutting of Coronilla glauca “Citrina” – a beautiful plant with glaucous blue, pinnate leaves, lemon pea-shaped flowers, similar to broom and a scent reminiscent of narcissi. A lovely scented collection!

And it’s even got my husband – a.k.a. “Mr Chef” – remarking on the smell when he comes in! Remarkable!

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!