Tag Archives: shrubs

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.

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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!

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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!

Oops! I did it again!

Yet again a casual trip to the garden centre has resulted in me leaving with two purchases – two new scented shrubs – of course!

Sarcococca orientalis and Sarcococca ruscifolia

Sarcococca orientalis and Sarcococca ruscifolia


Two new Sarcococcas – my current favs. This brings my count now of these wonderful small shrubs up to five.
Otherwise known as Christmas Box, they have a similarity to this well-known old faithful. They are very well behaved little shrubs. They are well adapted to shady conditions, with the small glossy leaves reflecting light. But there is more to them than being an evergreen stalwart of the shrub border understory. At the height of winter, when all can still appear dormant and dreary, they come into bloom. The flowers themselves may not scream at you, being small and insignificant, but the scent they emit is anything but!
I use them as edging plants in my scented shrub border. They need little to no maintenance and don’t need the clipping often required of box edging. As they are such easy to grow plants, that don’t easily outgrow their desired area, it’s not surprising that my collection keeps growing! And, another plus, is that their branches can be cut to bring indoors – as you can see from my previous posts!