We had several beautiful, bright cold days at Genus HQ last week. The sun shone through the eastern copse like torchlight, its beams accentuated by the rising early morning mist and, with no wind, each individual leaf could be heard as it took its final trip to the woodland floor.
In the shrub border our mulching was well underway with each plant getting a deep ring of compost and leaf mould around its base and the odd forgotten rose pruned back by half. After some time we were gradually aware of a subtle scent filling the air. Investigations led us to a large Lonicera purpusii ‘Winter Beauty’, a type of shrubby honeysuckle that we planted about 12 years ago. It wasn’t smothered in flowers but the sparse few that were there were highly perfumed with a sweet scent that hung around in the still air.
Many of our favourite shrubs in the Genus garden are winter scented. Just next to the Lonicera is a Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’. (pictured) With clusters of pink tubular flowers it’s a trouble free shrub that always earns its keep, as well as supplying any late foraging bumblebees with a nectar source. By the front door we have a Sarcococca confusa, its tight clusters of buds due to open after Christmas, their scent welcoming visitors into the new year. Even Choisya ternata, often thought of as a summer shrub, has flowers in December and an inquisitive nose will still detect the sweetness of its perfume even in the depths of winter.
Visitors to a garden centre at this time of year know only too well how fragrances are used to lure you around the store adding to the festive atmosphere. It's nice to know that we can do the same in our gardens with a little bit of thought and planning.