24 December 2017 - 1:17pm

Virburnum and seasons greetings!

We have a Viburnum x bodnatense ‘Dawn’ by the front of the house. Most of the year it is a quiet, unshowy presence , but right now it is just lovely. The gorgeous scent (to me of almond, but your nose may smell something different!) is wonderful, and lifts our sprits in the dark days of Winter, flowering for many weeks. This hardy, deciduous shrub began flowering in October this year. We brought it from our garden on the Isle of Wight in 1987 and it is still going strong. The white flushed with pink flowers fade slowly to pure white before giving way to small, rounded, purple berries in summer. By autumn, the green foliage transforms to a vibrant orange and yellow, in one final display before the winter returns. Our shrub is around 3 metres tall and getting rather congested, so, once it has finished flowering in late spring, I will be out there with my pruning saw, taking out about one third of the oldest stems right down to the ground. That way the shrub is completely renewed over 3 years and there is no temptation to trim off the top and turn it into a horrid lollipop of dead stems with a few weedy flowers at the top! I will give it a good, thick mulch of decent compost and, with luck, it will continue to give us pleasure for many more years to come. Viburnum are worth having in the garden for their scent alone. We have a gorgeously smelly specimen - I’m not sure whether it is V. x Juddii or V. Carelsii, but it has white tinged with pink flowers with a wonderful fragrance. In April it fills the whole garden here at Charnwood. We have it underplanted with snowdrops and white daffodils. It is in the part of the garden we rather pretentiously call our white garden. It starts with a white Cherry underplanted with a white shrub rose and a Exochorda x macrantha ‘The Bride’ (pictured). Then there are two mature weeping pear trees, white hardy cyclamen (pictured), lily of the valley, white daffodil ‘Thalia’ and Solomon’s Seal. The odd yellow daffodil pops up here and there but the overall effect throughout Spring makes us very happy! Talking of Lily of the Valley, I read in a gardening magazine that you can dig up a root now, pop it into a pot in a warm, light spot and it will flower within 4 weeks. It struck me that might make a good little Christmas gift, but I am getting ahead of myself, I will see if it works first! As winter is here, it is a good time to get on with pruning, especially fruit trees. So a decent pair of secateurs or a pruning saw would make an excellent Christmas present. I’m a compost anorak, and am hoping for some mushroom compost for Christmas. It keeps the weeds down, holds in the moisture, and feeds the soil as well as improving its structure, essential on our heavy clay. But I realise that isn’t a normal present request and is a bit difficult to wrap up and leave under the tree, so here are a couple more suggestions. A little cyclamen – they are lovely gifts and can be planted out in the garden in spring. You can’t do that with their bigger cousins, they are tender and will die if planted outside in the winter. Pots filled with bulbs are always welcome here for the same reason; you can enjoy them indoors and then plant them out; I have a whole border filled with tete a tete daffodils via that route! Just remember where you planted them and deadhead them when they have finished flowering and they will come up every year.