19 December 2021
Winter garden ideas
The garden in December can be a rather desolate place, but it needn’t be. Obviously, it can’t have the freshness and prettiness of Spring or the rampant colour of Summer. But there are some treasures that come into their own over the winter months, and some of them add that important dimension, a lovely scent.
One of my favourites is the Winter Flowering Virburnum ( see January 2022), sometimes sold with its old name of V.Fragrans. Virburnums are gentle, unassuming plants but many have the advantage of coming into flower when there is not too much competition and flowering over a long period, commonly November til March. If there’s a sharp frost it will regroup and start flowering a couple of weeks later. V. Fragrans was first recorded by a Jesuit priest in China in 1750, so it’s been around a while!
It grows quite tall, to about 3 or 4 metres, but can easily be pruned, best tackled after flowering. Not fussy about site or soil it has pink buds opening to delicate white flowers with a gorgeous almond scent. The perfume will fill a room if you pick a few small stems.
Lonicera Fragrantissima, the Winter flowering honeysuckle, is also a fairly boring looking shrub most of the year but is renowned for its beautiful scent. With creamy white flowers and a bushy habit, this isn’t the straggly climber we are probably more familiar with. I have recently purchased a group of them and am valiantly trying to keep the rabbits off, they seem to love it. If it’s a bit dull during the summer months a clematis may liven it up a bit. So far they are also happy to grow in light shade and average soil.
Daphnes are amazing plants, the perfume is so strong it can be overwhelming in an enclosed space. Ours starts flowering here early in the new year, I can see plenty of buds forming now in mid November. It is well worth checking the label as they do vary in size and fussiness, ours (name long forgotten) after about 10 years is about 4 feet tall by 3 feet wide. It’s in a sheltered spot that gets some sun but is mainly in light shade and in some decent soil.
If a visual splash is your preference, the multi stemmed dogwoods take some beating. I treated us to some Cornus ‘Midwinter Fire’ last year; they are aptly named, thriving, and starting to make an impact quite quickly. I’ve also got a multi stemmed Willow Salix gracilistyla ‘Mount Aso’ with lipstick pink catkins emerging around April (see photo). Not for the faint hearted though!
If you are alone and/or are or feeling fed up over Christmas and New Year and would enjoy a gentle stroll round a different space you would be very welcome to come and have a wander round ‘Charnwood’.
All the best to you all for the festive season.