Tag Archives: Mahonia

In the Bleak Midwinter?

Well, it did seem to be the case, sitting indoors listening to the rain, yet again, pattering against the window. Looking out at grey skies can really dampen the spirits. But then again, the view from the French windows, had to produce a glimmer of cheer.

The sight of Garrya elliptica’s beautiful long catkins, like icicles, led me to venture out with iPad in hand. Never mind the rain!

So glad I did!

I was heading right to the end of the garden (how brave!) to the Woodland garden, hoping to find the first signs of Spring there.

En route, I paused to take in the perfume of our Mahonia japonica – a sniff of early lily of the valley!

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Then on through the Allotment to revel in the sight of this year’s rhubarb poking through.

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And then reaching the Woodland, to discover all that I had hoped for!

What with snowdrops, perfume and the promise of joys to come, it’s not so bleak at all!

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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”….

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….both outdoors and in!

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

Full Circle – Almost!

Cotinus "Grace"

Cotinus “Grace”

We’ve now had our first frost, so that’s it! I know summer has been hanging on for as long she could, but we can’t deny any longer that autumn is well and truly here and heading towards winter. Please don’t think of me as a merchant of doom! On the contrary, autumn and winter are just as beautiful, with magnificent fiery leaf displays and frosted skeletons. So much to enjoy! But I do miss being able to spend as much time outdoors.

This realisation was re-enforced on my recent walk around the “Estate”, while idling along the scented shrub border. After the flowers of summer and leaves of autumn, this border starts to take on greater importance again. Some of our winter flowering shrubs, are already starting to flower, although one of our summer shrubs is still bravely soldiering on.

Zenobia pulverulenta

Zenobia pulverulenta

I was amazed to notice quite of a few of its lily-of-the valley flowers still nestling among its glaucous leaves. Its aniseed scent was, sadly, not so obvious.

But the main shrub border is definitely showing a wintery trend.

Viburnum farreri

Viburnum farreri

Viburnum is a stalwart of the winter garden, especially where scent is an issue. V. farreri is a large, sprawling, deciduous shrub, lovely at this time of year, when it starts flowering, coinciding with the last of the reddish tinted leaves. The clusters of tiny, white flowers, like miniature “cottonwool balls”, sporadically appear over the shrub throughout winter. This one started in October. The flowers, although small, emit a sweet scent reminiscent of baby powder!

Viburnum x bodnantense "Dawn"

Viburnum x bodnantense “Dawn”

In the flowering hedge, in the front garden, we have another example, the well known Viburnum x bodnantense “Dawn”. It’s a very similar shrub, the flowers being more pink. Here, the blooms are somewhat lost in the mass of dense foliage, but the powdery scent definitely is not!

Skimmia japonica "Rubella"

Skimmia japonica “Rubella”

Back in the Scented Shrub border, Skimmia japonica “Rubella” is revving into gear, providing colour with its ruby-red flower buds. It’s not, as yet, treating us to any of its sweet perfume – that, it’s saving up for spring. This small, evergreen shrub, another winter favourite, courtesy of its flower buds, needs little introduction. I’d go so far as to say it’s the buds rather than the scented flowers, that makes this such a favourite for winter, being widely used as a component in winter pots.

Moving on, and this is where we almost come full circle.

Mahonia japonica

Mahonia japonica

The Mahonia japonica’s sprays of flowers, are just starting to open. And it’s beautiful, tiny daffodil blooms, perfumed like lily-of-the-valley, was the first subject I wrote about, way back at the start of the year!

And keeping it company….

Coronilla glauca "Citrina"

Coronilla glauca “Citrina”

….our Coronilla has started flowering again, having only stopped blooming in early summer. How’s that for longevity!

But despite the promises of winter scent, let’s carry on enjoying autumn, with the burnt orange tones of Cotinus, glowing in the sun, at the start of the post, to another “Stolen Pleasure” of pink forsythia leaves in combination with flowering ivy, at the end.

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The Cuttings Calendar – January

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Having instigated my Cuttings Calender, and set myself the target of a constant supply of indoor arrangements, I’d better get on with it! It is now nearly the end of February, with little to show so far.

Indoor arrangements – well, I must use the term loosely! I do like single sprays occasionally, sometimes for simple impact, but sometimes because there is little available at the time. I will allow myself that leeway for my first attempts!
My fellow bloggers have inspired me to be more imaginative so I must be more adventurous in future.

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My Mahonia selection in milk bottles, was a contender. It imparted a wonderful scent around the room and was a lovely, cheery yellow. It also lasted well. Snowdrops with Sarcococca also featured for several days.

However, the Sarcococca had to be the pick of January! It was my first attempt and so had to be the one!