Tag Archives: scent

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.

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I have a cunning plan!

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Or at least I hope I will!

I have been asked to create a design for a Health Centre garden – an unpaid venture, but I’m excited nonetheless, as it’s my first, apart from family and friends.

The chairman of the Patient Group for the surgery met me yesterday, to introduce me to the garden. Her way of describing it in advance, was “Tombstone City” and when we arrived, I could see why! It was an internal, open quadrangle, with the strangest arrangement of geometric shaped beds – all wooden edged, with woodchip covered membrane studded with boulders. Hers was a good description! It came complete with drain covers and old tree stumps, and only one poor plant, which I identified as a hydrangea, was struggling to survive.

It would have been a nightmare, trying to measure the beds accurately. Fortunately, the paved pathways – basic and past their past – were a regular 2×2 ft so provided a simpler method of measuring up.

I had an easy ride in a way. As there was little in the way of funding available, due to the money having to be raised, the basic structure had to stay. My task was to provide a planting plan. I had arrived armed with several ideas.

My first idea was “An Apothecary’s Garden – the healing power of plants” showing the wonderful array of plants that can have medicinal properties. It was to be centred around several “Apothecaries Roses” – the very old rose, Rosa gallica officinalis with beautiful, crimson pink, highly scented flowers, followed by rosehips, if not deadheaded. It was to include many flowers with medicinal properties – Digitalis, Vinca, Echinacea to name a few, – along with some of our more familiar garden herbs. I even envisaged designing an information leaflet to go with it, naming the plants, and describing their medicinal properties, to be available if anyone wanted more info.

Another, was a “Memory garden”, possibly a rose garden, with plants donated in memory of a loved one. Maybe though, too down beat, so I dismissed that one. I was looking for something more uplifting, more positive and hopeful.

My third idea, and the one I favoured, was a “Serene Garden” – a space full of tranquility and calm. I wanted to use lots of grasses for their properties of soothing sound, mixed with lots of “prairie-style” plants, in soothing, but uplifting and cheerful colours of white and yellow, with possibly a hint of blue to give depth to the planting. My colleague fortunately liked the idea of that as well. A garden to soothe both the sick and worried patients as well as the overworked and stressed staff!

The aspect of the garden revealed a lovely sun-trap, in a sheltered position. I asked if the budget could stretch to a bench, which I thought would be ideal there and was pleased to hear that would be possible. I want that area to be filled with lots of scented plants, including climbers (Jasmine? Trachelospermum possibly?) against the brick wall.

I finished off my measuring up, and was then shown around the surgery and introduced to the Practice Manager, who seemed very nice and approachable (good for the many visits I may have to make!) and who seemed pleased and excited by what we were planning to do.

So home I went, with all the cogs whirring away in my head. I’m surprised you didn’t smell the smoke! And now to (rather nervously!) put pencil to paper.

I will keep you all up to date with my progress and, hopefully, before and after piccies. Wish me luck!

Six of the best! – a contender

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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!

Lemon pop!

Lonicera fragrantissima

Lonicera fragrantissima


Does anyone remember lemon “Creamola Foam” – soft drink crystals from umpteen years ago? Well, that to me, is the scent of winter-flowering honeysuckle. It takes me right back to my childhood!
I must say, the tiny honeysuckle flowers, with their delicate, fresh, lemony scent is the plant’s strong point. It is a vigorous grower, with a sprawling habit. Not a plant of great beauty for the rest of the year and it does need to be kept in check. But please don’t let that put you off! It does hang on to some of its leaves overwinter (it’s semi-evergreen). And the scent is hard to beat!
The one pictured is Lonicera fragrantissima, which I have in the back, as part of my scented shrub border – along with other winter gems! I have another variety, Lonicera purpusii, which I have as part of a flowering hedge in the front garden. It responds well to the clipping, becoming much denser. At the moment, as well as flowering, it has retained its leaves and is still perfectly green – a bonus for a hedge. An interesting new way of using them? Definitely worth a consideration!