Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day. January 2014

I am joining the Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day this month which is hosted by May Dreams Gardens. At last things are waking up in the garden  and as we have not had any harsh weather this winter everything seems really early.

Fragrance seems such a feature of the winter garden. Giving me pleasure to look at and to sniff at the moment there is:


Mahonia japonica which is just coming into bloom now has an exquisite fragrance of lily-of-the valley. Mahonia x media ‘Charity’ and ‘Lionel Fortescue’ are nearly over now just as this beauty is starting. The flowers are a paler yellow and the fragrance is much more intense than that of ‘Charity’.  If you want a strongly perfumed Mahonia then this is the one to go for.


Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ is sweetly scented and flowers all winter long.


Almost out but not quite there, Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’ is the most exquisitely perfumed Daphne. In fact she is the most exquisitely scented plant in the garden. If I was only allowed one winter flowering plant this is the one I would choose. She is superb.


Lonicera x purpusii ‘Winter Beauty’ is a cross between Lonicera fragrantissima and Lonicera standishii. I think it is the best of the winter-flowering honeysuckles but like all of them it takes up a lot of room. It is lovely for picking though.


I have already written about my Chimonanthus  praecox this month, but I have to include it because it is one of the sweetest smelling of the winter flowering shrubs.


Sarcococca  hookeriana var digyna is my favourite Sarcococca. It has such pretty flowers and like all of its tribe it sends wafts of perfume round the garden. For those who don’t know it I wish I could describe the perfume but it defies description. Please go and find one to sniff.


Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Vesna’ has lovely, long, yellow spidery petals with orange centres. it also has a fantastic Autumn colour. Vesna was the Russian goddess of  spring which seems appropriate for this beautiful witch hazel . This and ‘Jelena’ are always the first to come into flower in my garden.

So there we have all the lovely fragrant plants  Now we go on to a tree which I have planted in every garden I have owned. It flowers all winter, only stopping for a while if the weather is too cold and frosty.


Prunus x subhirtella ‘Autumnalis Rosea’ has the daintiest little flowers and looks wonderful against a blue winter sky.  ‘Rosea’ is the pink form you can get it in white if you prefer.

So that is the shrubs and trees in bloom at the moment. But on the ground exciting things are happening.  Some of the Hellebores are out.


Helleborus x hybridus ‘Walberton’s Rosemary’ was a new acquisition last year. I love it, you can see that it has ‘niger’ in its parentage by its large flowers which don’t hang their heads like those of  H. orientalis. It came into flower before all the other hellebores. The orientalis buds are just opening and some of the paler ones are out. They always open before the dark ones.

Another favourite is the hybrid  Helleborus x ericsmithii’. I have ‘Winter Sunshine’ and  ‘Winter Moon Beam’ which are gorgeous but not yet out. Last week I broke one of  my New Year’s resolutions and bought another Hellebore.


Helleborus x ericsmithii ‘Shooting Star’. Well who could resist those creamy flowers with the rosy pink  veined backs and pink buds? These gorgeous hybrids bred by Eric Smith have Sternii in their breeding which gives them their lovely veined leaves.


Iris unguicularis ‘Walter Butt’ is my favourite  amongst these dainty  winter flowering irises.  In a sheltered spot, it flowers before any of the  others in my garden, the flowers are larger and they are fragrant. Who could ask for more than that?


I’ve already written recently about my wonderful, very early  Narcissus minor ‘Cedric Morris’. Here is another photograph of them still looking gorgeous.


This Cyclamen coum is out before any of the others. it is a particularly pretty one with pewter coloured leaves.


Glanthus elwesii but I’m not sure which one. It is slightly fragrant though and nice and early.


Eranthis hyemalis just showing their heads like little yellow buttons . Any day now there will be carpets of them but the first glimpse of the winter aconites peeping through the soil is always exciting. I took these photos yesterday because the sun was shining and the sky was blue. Today is dull and murky but never mind the garden is awakening.

Do visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens to see what other gardeners have out in their gardens today.

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54 Responses to Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day. January 2014

  1. Pauline says:

    You have such a lot of beautiful flowers, you must have perfume floating everywhere! I must look for a Mahonia japonica as you say, it will take over from Charity which is just going over.

    • Chloris says:

      I think fragrance is the best thing about the winter garden. I have read in several blogs that people are disappointed by the lack of perfume in Mahonia ‘Charity’. It only has a very faint scent. Mahonia japonica smells wonderful.

  2. VP says:

    Good point to highlight scent in the garden at this time of the year – so uplifting.
    I have H. ‘Winter Moonbeam’ too – a fabulous plant. Looks great even when it’s not in flower 🙂

    • Chloris says:

      You are right ‘Moonbeam’ is gorgeous and clumps up so well. I love all these new H. Ericsmithii. I usually cut the leaves off the Hellebores at flowering time but these are so pretty I leave them as long as they are healthy

  3. Bernieh says:

    You do have quite a lot going on in your garden right now. Many of your plants are unknowns to me, so I can only use my imagination to try and get a sense of the perfume that’s swirling around your garden. Loved the Mahonia and Viburnum blooms, and the Witch Hazel flowers always fascinate me.

    • Chloris says:

      So many of your plants are unfamiliar to me and gloriously exotic. I do love winter flowering plants though and try to have as many fragrant ones as possible.

  4. commonweeder says:

    Great post. I think fragrance is always important in the garden.

  5. Lea says:

    Looks like Spring!
    Happy Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day!

  6. Robbie says:

    WOW…is all I can say + I agree with all the comments above + I also must use my imagination with fragrance….your tour is so beautiful( long sigh)..just lovely:-)Helleborus I have never grown in our climate, would they work in zone 5? also do the bees visit them? I have always been curious about these plants, do you recommend any since you seem to know a lot about them + do they disappear after spring to be replaced by others….like my crocus + reticulated iris?:-)I have limited space so I have to choreograph my garden to move at different times + leave the stage for others-lol

    • Chloris says:

      Bees love Hellebores. I don’t really understand your different weather zones in America but they are quite hardy here and take any sort of weather. If it is very frosty they hang their heads but they perk up when the weather gets a bit warmer.. Helleborus orientalis has the most amazing variety of colours from white with pink or purple spots to deep plum or yellow, or slate colour, even apricot. You can get frilly doubles; they are all divine. I cut off the leaves at flowering time but in summer they grow new leaves, they don’t disappear like Iris reticulata. The fresh new leaves are attractive though. Do try and find a corner for some. If they are happy they will seed around.

      • Robbie says:

        Thank you so much! I will try them this year + look for the type you suggested. I do have a corner in my front yard that I grow some since your pictures finally convinced me, I just have to grow one:-)

      • Robbie says:

        One more question. Can you start them from seed?

      • Chloris says:

        You can, but you need to get hold of fresh seed, they really need to be sown as soon as they are ripe. If you buy seed that is not fresh you will get very poor germination. Good luck!

  7. Nell Jean says:

    Love all the sweet-smelling blossoms that make winter a little more tolerable. Happy Bloom Day.

  8. Chloris says:

    You are right, I love all the fragrances of winter flowering plants. I have tried to collect as many as possible because winter goes on for a long time..

    • Nell Jean says:

      Thank you for visiting my blog. ‘Leonard Messel’ keeps opening a handful of blooms and frost keeps turning them brown. Fortunately there seem to be enough to last until real spring gets here.

  9. rusty duck says:

    A delightfully fragrant post!
    I planted a cutting of Lonicera ‘Winter Beauty’ which I brought with me from the last garden. It’s not doing much and I think it’s in too shady a position. I must move it this year.

    • Chloris says:

      I think it can cope with partial shade, Jessica. It smells wonderful but it does get a big and sprawly and doesn’t look very exciting for the rest of the year. Perhaps it is a candidate for a viticella clematis? I think I might try that this year.

  10. Cathy says:

    We have links – hurrah! You will be dropping them in all over the place now – well done, like you said, easy when you know how. It’s usually worth checking they work, by the way. I was in fragrance heaven reading your post and have put ‘Jacqueline Postill’ on an electronic post-it now on my desktop as you make her sound irresistible and I must look out for her, as well as H ‘Vesna’ as I have decided I have space for at least one more witch hazel. Had to laugh at your hellebore confession – the Golfer ‘made’ me buy two more when our garden centre had 20% off everything. I didn’t want to – honest! Interesting info on H ericsmithii – I have read recently that some of the newer hybrids can be short-lived so obviously not these ones. If we are to be tempted by them we don’t want them to die on us!

  11. Chloris says:

    Yes thank you for teaching me how to do links, I would never have figured that out by myself. The Golfer made you buy Hellebores did he? How very obliging of him! Ericsmithii ‘Moonbeam’ and ‘Winter Sunshine’ were new last year but they are looking very healthy and have increased in size. Daphne ‘Jacqueline Postill’ is a ‘must have’. If the golfer sees it he is sure to make you buy it.

  12. Alison says:

    So many lovely scents and flowers you have out there. I was out there yesterday near some sweetbox and it smelled so wonderful. This time of year when plants start to show up is so exciting.

  13. Chloris says:

    it is such an exciting time. My father used to go around the garden every day in winter getting excited about the buds getting plumper.Once things came out he wasn’t nearly so thrilled as he was at the sight of those buds.
    It is wonderful watching everything coming out but the best thing in the garden just now is the fragrance.

  14. It is so nice to see green and blooms and know there is still fragrance in this world, while my upstate New York garden slumbers in our winter cold. I love hellebores – but ours will not be blooming just yet.

  15. Chloris says:

    Well I look forward to seeing them when they do bloom. It won’t be long. The days are getting longer.

  16. Helene says:

    I absolutely love scented flowers and can’t get enough of them – this time of year really is the right time for scented flowers! I bought my first Daphne last autumn and it is just days away from flowering, can’t wait! I agree that it is difficult to describe scent and scented flowers in particular so the best way is to go out and fins some to sniff. Failing that, go to a garden centre in January and ask for the isle of scented plants in flower right now. There are surprisingly many! Happy GBBD!

  17. Chloris says:

    You are right there are so many plants which smell wonderful at this time of the year. It is one of the joys of winter to fill your garden with fragrant flowers.

  18. bittster says:

    Haha, New Year’s resolution broken by the 15th! Good thing too, it opens things up for later in the season when the hellebore season really picks up 🙂
    I wish I could take a stroll along with you and give things a sniff. When things warm up here all I seem to smell is the calling cards for the many cats that have visited during the winter months…..

    • Chloris says:

      Well, I did say ‘you probably have enough Hellebores’ rather than ‘you will not buy any more Hellebores’ so I gave myself a way out with that ‘probably’. I hope your garden wakes up soon from its winter sleep.

  19. Oh my goodness. Spring is very much in evidence in your garden! I won’t have Hellebores until March, if I’m lucky. That Witch Hazel shot is lovely. Happy GBBD!

    • Chloris says:

      Witch hazels are magical and Vesna is an early one.My Hellebores are early this year but it is hard for you having to wait until March. are they showing any buds yet?

  20. Amazing flowers for January! I have got to try some Sarcococca hookeriana when we get back to Washington, D.C. I have never smelled it. The day we studied it in Woody Plants class, the professor had to dig it out from under a foot of snow. He said, “Just take my word for it; it’s a great plant.”

  21. Chloris says:

    Yes you must take his word for it, Sarcococca is absolutely fantastic.So much fragrance from such a tiny flower.

  22. Julie says:

    Your garden must smell heavenly and reminded me of the wonderful variety in the winter walk at Anglesea Abbey. I would really like to grow Hamamelis ‘Vesna’ and had not realised that was a good autumn colour plant too.

    • Chloris says:

      Anglesea Abbey has a wonderful winter garden. I love the way they have planted Sarcococca all round the car park. The smell is divine.
      Yes, Vesna is a lovely witch hazel and early flowering too.

  23. Annette says:

    Wow, Chloris, I’m impressed and we do have a lot of plants in common. The flowers of your chimonanthus are very yellow. Is it Luteus? Your hellebores are very pretty, same goes for Vesna. It’s good to see that things are looking up 🙂

    • Chloris says:

      Well, it sounds as if we share a love of winter flowering plants, Annette. The Chimonanthus is not Luteus; you can’t see on the photo but it has maroon centres. I have noticed that they seem to vary, some are paler yellow than others. I have a Luteus but it is quite young and only has one flower.

  24. Flighty says:

    This post with all these lovely, and fragrant, flowers show why winter should never be ignored as far as the garden goes, even though the relatively mild weather has helped this year. xx

  25. Chloris says:

    Yes we have been lucky this year everything is early, but you are right winter goes on too long to leave the garden barren and uninteresting. If you search for them there are plenty of winter blooming plants.

  26. Anna says:

    I really enjoyed your January bloom Chloris and could almost detect those fabulous scents drifting on the air. My autumn flowering cherry has not stuttered once since coming into flower 🙂

  27. Chloris says:

    Thank you Anna, I love this cherry, it goes on and on flowering and the flowers are so dainty.

  28. I am in awe that you have so much in bloom, and so much fragrance to boot! I have a long way to go before even my Hellebores are in bloom.

    • Chloris says:

      But you have been snowed up, and we have had a mild winter so far. Things could change, there is plenty of winter to go and maybe soon we will have the snow and you will be basking in sunshine and I will be sitting here looking at your blooms whilst mine are lost under a blanket of snow.

  29. I’m in SHOCK all these things are open in your yard! is this insanely unusual or am i hopelessly uneducated?

  30. Chloris says:

    They are all winter flowering plants which I seek out because winter goes on for such a long time.. Our winter has been very mild so far, so everything is a week or two early, especially the Hellebores. So really the garden looks more like February than January.

  31. elaine says:

    I thought I was doing well with half a dozen things in flower – your post just proves to me that I must try harder with plants for next winter.

    • Chloris says:

      Well it is worth seeking out as many winter blooming plants as possible, winter goes on for such a long time. Of course we have been lucky here with a very mild winter so many of my plants are a week or two early.

  32. So many lovely plants! Most of them are unknown to me. I wonder if I could have fragrance in my garden in winter?

  33. Chloris says:

    You live in the Algarve! Aren’t your winters mild? So many winter flowering plants are fragrant. I’m sure they are ones you could grow.

  34. Peter/Outlaw says:

    You have so many beautiful blooms this January. I grow most of the plants you’ve featured but they aren’t all blooming yet! What kind of silly resolution is not buying any more Hellebores? One can never have too many, right? They’re my favorite winter visitors! (Please don’t tell Santa Claus I said that!) Prunus x subhirtella ‘Autumnalis Rosea’ is a new plant to me; I will seek it out!

  35. Chloris says:

    Well a resolution not to buy anymore Hellebores was an attempt to curb my extravagance. I lose all restraint once I start buying them. They are all different and all gorgeous. The ones I have have have seeded around liberally so I don’t need any more. What did King Lear say? ‘Oh, reason not the need’. Very wise words, I will buy just one or two more.

  36. I’m planning on starting my very first Hellebore this spring! They are so beautiful – Are they fragrant? I’m dying here without blooms – really must start a winter garden.

  37. Chloris says:

    You get a wonderful variety of colours if you grow Helleborus Orientalis but they are not fragrant. As far as I know the only scented Helleborus is the flower of Helleborus foetidus ‘Miss Jekyll’s Scented’. This is strange because if you bruise a leaf of the common Helleborus foetidus it smells acrid. There are so many other things to give you fragrance at this time of the year but nothing quite like the beauty of Hellebores to give you glorious winter blooms.

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