December 14, 2018

Caroline’s Garden Diaries 16.1.2014: Wonderful Winter Shrubs

As promised, witch hazel is out, but taking me completely by surprise; only a few days ago, the buds were tightly closed, then wandering down garden two days ago suddenly saw it’s covered in orangey curly fronds! Looked more closely and the petals are really amazing – look so much like long curls of orange peel that you might find in a good marmalade, a real “Marmalade Moment”, (remember village show 2011?) though actually taking photos of them show the colour to be elegant stripes of coral and orange. And really close up, can also see wonderful maroon calyx.

Witch hazel is one of the many winter-flowering shrubs that have the most gorgeous scent; another is the honeysuckle, aptly-named Lonicera fragrantissima, one of which grows right next to the backdoor so I get a good sniff whenever I go out. Also get a dose of virtue rewarded – planting that works, unlike the Christmas box, Sarcococca, that’s also supposed to be near the door or path – problem is, it’s only a foot or so high so you have to kneel down in mud to smell it. The honeysuckle is also looking lovely with its white flowers on bare twigs looking like a fall of snow.

Viburnum bodnantense is another scented beauty; it’s a tall elegant shrub, similarly flowering on long bare branches. It’s also good-looking in leaf, which perhaps the honeysuckle isn’t.
Then there’s winter jasmine, a plant I would never be without; it has such cheerful yellow flowers on long arching twigs that are perfect for cutting – I’m not much of a flower-arranger but I love using winter jasmine with variegated foliage for Christmas table decorations, and now in January it’s looking good with a single winter iris. These are all wonderful plants that can transform winter days.

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