Shrubs for Winter Fragrance
The winter garden can be a solemn place, naturally lacking in life and lustre, with any type of flower seeming like a major miracle. The combination of colour and fragrance is all the more valuable in winter when both the garden and ourselves need a lift in spirits. There are some stunning winter shrubs to remind us that winter is not all doom and gloom. And often the most fragrant shrubs bloom in the winter!
Evergreen Winter Fragrant Shrubs
Christmas box or sweet box, scientifically known as Sarcococca, are easy to grow evergreens with lovely leathery leaves. The inconspicuous blooms which hide under the leaves, flower in the winter, but their scent is unmissable. This low grow shrub is perfect to plant at the front (or back), the places you are most likely to appreciate their perfume.
Fragrant winter daphne, Daphne odora, is known for its highly fragrant flowers, which bloom in late winter or early spring. The flowers are typically pink or white and have a sweet, floral scent. Growing to a compact shrub size of 1m in height and spread, it is generally easy to care for and can thrive in a range of soil types as long as it is well-drained, preferring partial sun or dappled shade.
Non-Evergreen Winter Fragrance
While Christmas box is evergreen, some of the most fragrant and brightly coloured winter shrubs bear no leaves at all. Winter sweet or Chimonanthus praecox is known for its winter fragrance and clear yellow flowers which burst through the winter gloom. It is quite a large growing shrub at up to 3m tall and wide, so leave plenty of room for it to grow and you won’t be disappointed. Ideal in a front garden where you can enjoy its welcoming smell on your arrival home. It can offer some privacy during the summer when it is in full leaf also. Be mindful not to place too close to the house due to its mature size.
Similarity to winter sweet is witch hazel – Hamamelis x intermedia. Highly fragrant sulphur yellow flowers are borne in January – February, making this an absolute must as a specimen shrub for the winter. The flowers are followed by large, green foliage that turns yellow and orange in autumn, before falling to reveal their arching and spreading form. The flower, almost spidery in appearance, displays the brightest on the darkest of winter days, making it quite a stunner in the colder months, considered to be medium sized, so expect a height and spread of 4 x 4 metres in 20 years. When given a well-drained, acid – neutral soil in partial shade or full sun, a smaller size can be maintained with annual pruning. This yellow Witch Hazel will also tolerate some wind exposure if planting in an open border.
Viburnum × bodnantense is widely grown, but is almost always the ‘Dawn,’ variety, bearing pink fragrant flowers on bare stems. This is another winter stunner. Its narrow, but tall habit makes it ideal for most sized gardens.
Viburnum × bodnantense is widely grown, but is almost always the ‘Dawn,’ variety, bearing pink fragrant flowers on bare stems. This is another winter stunner. It’s narrow, but tall habit makes it ideal for most sized gardens.
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