Tag Archives: Skimmia

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!


Oh, Dear! Never Mind!


This just sums it up!

I must confess I have been struggling for inspiration both in gardening and blogging. I could blame a late holiday. I could blame six weeks of world class rugby for taking my interest. And I could blame decorating for taking my time. But that was many weeks ago. I don’t even think I can blame the usual Christmas panic. All is in hand for once. After deliberating this strange situation, I realise I must blame the weather. It has truly dampened my spirits – not to mention the garden.

I hate wind! More than any other weather episode! Apart from the arch, it has also blown down a fence panel and countless pots have been blown over and debris been scattered around the garden. Climbers have been torn from their supports. Everything is sodden. The garden is in a sorry state. And the truth of the matter is, that the newly decorated indoors is, just now, more appealing!😩

Don’t panic, though! This illness is acute, not chronic! And time is a healer!

Despite the minor destruction, there is still much of interest in the garden. My all important scent is still present, in the form of Mahonia japonica, Lonicera purpusii and Coronilla Citrina, with many more perfumed buds waiting in the wings – complete with new shoots! I’m already seeing signs of bulbs coming through, and hellebore flowers pushing their way through the damp soil. Festive red skimmia berries are so welcome! Even roses are still managing to bloom, as my last vase shows.


This is when foliage plays its part. Especially grasses. They are not just for summer!

Hakonechloa macra

Hakonechloa macra


What a beautiful bright gold to brighten the gloom!

That said, I feel there is much room for improvement. Many of our shrubs are either overgrown, or underperforming. The domineering ash tree is, I’m sure, now having a detrimental effect. So a rethink is on the cards for the New year.

The tree must go, the surgeon has been appointed, and we are awaiting a date.
That will let in so much more light. I want to add loads of soil improver to the shrub borders, to improve the quality of the soil, probably quite malnourished. I want to look closely at the flower borders, and ruthlessly dispatch those that are not performing well. I’m well aware of the growing number of scented shrubs dotted around the garden, still in their original containers (if they haven’t been blown over!). I think I must follow my passion in redesigning these borders, shifting the emphasis towards these shrubs. Many, which are struggling planted on the shady side, may appreciate a move from the dark side. I must keep myself in check, though, and not be too hasty. Who knows what a difference a tree makes – or lack of it!

So, despite the grey skies and gloomy weather forecasts, there is much to look forward to next year. It’s quite exciting, really!

That’s what gardening does! 😀

Scent in the Garden – April


What a difference a month makes! Gone (or almost gone) are the winter flowering shrubs of last month. However, our Coronilla “Citrina” is determined to prove me wrong, by defying the seasons and to continue flowering. It has been, since last autumn.

But, however valuable the long flowering shrubs are, it is nice to move on.

We inherited several shrubs when we first moved in, including two cherries of unknown variety. They were to provide a backdrop to our scented shrub border and so it’s nice to realise that, when in bloom, they have a very delicate scent. And, as you can see above, they can be stunning against a blue sky!

Elsewhere in the garden, there is so much scent to share with you. But where do I start? Ok the scented shrub border itself.


I love watching these Viburnum flowers develop! This is Viburnum carlesii “Aurora”. The buds start off looking like clusters of tiny rubies, before they open into domes of pinkish white flowers, that have the clove perfume similar to pinks. They have the added bonus of autumn coloured leaves, too.


Our Daphne tangutica has just started flowering. This evergreen shrub starts flowering now, with tiny white flowers, opening from purple buds. It has a strong perfume, with a heady scent so similar to Jasmine. And it does repeat flower, over the summer. For me it flowers again in June. And so more pleasure!


Osmanthus delavayii is a wonderful shrub! It has small, dark green, evergreen leaves, that are well suited to hard clipping, making it a good subject for hedging. It has tiny white flowers, that smother the plant and has such a strong perfume that will follow you round the garden – well, a bit of the way, anyway!


Skimmia japonica “Rubella” is regarded as a stalwart of the Winter garden, by virtue of its ruby red buds. But it’s now, in April, that these buds open to produce cones of sweetly scented flowers. This variety is male – you need to have both male and female to produce its lovely red winter berries. Here we grow the female “Red Princess” to this end, although its flowers are not so impressive.


The scent doesn’t end here. I recently planted Clematis armandii “Apple Blossom” to cover the pergola over the dining area. It was in bud then, but now it’s flowered for the first time and what a perfume! Strong, sweet and almondy. It has long, evergreen, leathery leaves which should grow to partially cover the area.


In the Woodland Garden, our unknown Pieris is looking amazing now, with its large clusters of little white Chinese lanterns. I had heard rumours of Pieris being scented but hadn’t noticed any perfume. At least, that was until I decided to cut a sprig for an Easter arrangement, and then I noticed its delicate perfume.


Even the Allotment is playing its part.


Admittedly, the edging of herbs will be scented continually, but I felt that the aromatic Rosemary bush, decked out in its blue flowers, was worthy of showing here.

And at the entrance to the Allotment, we have a beautiful Akebia quinata scrambling over one side of an arch.


Its tiny chocolate flowers are just starting to open, from their attractive buds, that look like little bunches of grapes. They look like chocolate, and they smell like chocolate! Can you get any better than that? 🙂


Love it or hate it, the smell of Box is another one available all year round. Here, it also has the fresh lime green flush of its flowers and new leaves.

I must finish with a much overlooked scent in the garden, that of newly cut grass. A fellow blogger (Thank you, Biking Gardener!) commented on my last post about the smell of a freshly cut lawn, and that got me thinking. It’s definitely worth including in the Scent in the Garden meme!


Thank you to Louise at Welly Woman and Sue at Backlane Notebook for hosting this meme.

How’s your garden smelling?

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.