Perfumed flowers add an extra dimension to gardens and are a must for the winter garden. There are three points to bear in mind when choosing places for scented plants. How and when the scent is dispersed and what sort of scent is it. All pleasantly scented plants need to be within reach of your nose. Put these shrubs along pathways or near your front door especially scented flowers for the winter garden, so that you can appreciate them and not at the bottom of the garden where you won’t be able to smell them. Plants who disperse their perfume through their leaves need to be placed near where you will either brush against them eg; Lavandula (lavender) or stand on them Thymus. When is also an issue to consider, plants whose perfume is diffused in the evening should be put near a dining or seating area which you would use in the evening.
The following are my favourite scented flowers for the winter garden:
Lonicera x purpusii
Winter flowering honeysuckles is a medium or large shrub up to 2.5m tall. The flowers are pale but their fragrance is wonderful especially if your position the plant somewhere that you will be passing in the winter months by doors or gates where the fragrance can be freely enjoyed. To keep plants tidy Lonicera should be pruned after flowering in mid spring before plants fully leaf up. Cut back top growth by up to one third to a strong bud or side shoot. Lonicera does not look very appealing in the summer why not grow a clematis through it once it is established to give some extra colour in the summer
Winter box is a compact evergreen shrub with honey scented flowers in December to March. It can grow in light shade and most soils apart from very dry ones and is quite happy in acid or alkaline soil and will grow to a 1.5m. I have seen it used in West Dean gardens instead of box on a north facing border and at Wisley in front of the greenhouse borders in a similar manor. Sarocococca can be shaped after flowering. It can be prone to suckering which should be cut hard back in spring.
Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’
This witch hazel is my favourite, it is a large deciduous shrub with fruitily scented flowers for the winter garden, growing up to 3m. They need to be grown in the sun or light shade on acid or neutral soil on moist or well drained soil. The flowers are large sulphur yellow and look like coconut shards, they look wonderful against a dark background, flowering from December to February. If possible avoid pruning only do if necessary, remove in early-spring any crossing or diseased branches. It also has beautiful autumn colour with its leaves changing to a yellow tinge.
The Mahonia has beautiful yellow flowers, smelling of lily of the valley , it flowers from December to March. It is a very architectural shrub with evergreen holly like foliage. It grows in sun or shade and can tolerate full shade and will grow to a height of 2m. Prune after flowering, they can be pruned quiet hard as they have plenty of dormant buds that will produce new shoots.
Daphne bholua ‘Jaqueline Postill’,
Daphne’s are the strongest and most sophisticated scents of all the scented flowers for the winter garden, the perfume is very sweet with a hint of clove. Flowering in January and February and will grow to 2.5m. It does best in a sunny sheltered position in well drained soil. This Daphne is ideal to grow near the house to get the most benefit from the spectacular perfume which carries on the cold winter air. This is a very hardy form and the flowers are showy purplish-pink in clusters. Keep pruning to a minimum as Daphne’s are very susceptible to die-back. When necessary do it after flowering, lightly trim back and remove misplaced branches to maintain a compact habit. This is quite a difficult shrub to get hold of as it is very difficult to propagate but if you do manage to see one and you can offer it the ideal growing conditions I would definitely grow it.
I am a qualified garden designer with a keen interest in contemporary, natural and traditional gardens. You can find me on Twitter of like my Facebook page where you will find lots of tips related to gardening.