Here we are in the depths of winter with an icy wind blowing, but never mind there are lovely things in bloom if we are hardy enough to go and look at them. Let’s start with the Witch Hazels. This is my newest addition; an extravagance but well worth it. May I present Hamamelis ‘Livia’.
Bluebell Nursery describes the colour as bright red and so it is, but it also seems to have a purple tinge to it. Perhaps this is because each calyx is a purplish colour. I planted Livia besides the glaucous leaves of a Euphorbia.
I am particularly fond of Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Vesna’ which is named after the Russian Goddess of Spring. It reminds me of one I used to grow in my last garden, called ‘Strawberries and Cream’. Here it is with the first tassel just emerging from the bud.
And today it is fully out. I love this one, the flowers are two tone; bright yellow with a lovely pinky glow. They remind me of sea urchins.
By the far pond I have the orange Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’ in bloom.
I have a rather undistinguished Hamamelis mollis which has quite small tassels. I wouldn’t buy it again but it was cheap and I can’t resist a bargain. But it does smell delicious.
I quite forgot to check ‘Pallida’ to see if its lovely sulphur yellow blooms have opened yet, so I will save it for another time. The last to bloom is always ‘Arnold Promise’ so he is still to come. These witch hazels have the most delicious fragrance, some stronger than others. The Chinese mollis hybrids seem too have the strongest perfume. They are said to like an acid soil, but I don’t think it matters as long as they don’t become water-logged and never dry out. I keep mine watered in summer which is a bit of a chore, but well worth it. If you would like to see more witch hazels, keep your eye on ramblinginthegarden blog because Cathy is the Witch Hazel Queen.
The great joy of the winter garden is fragrance. I have talked about the queen of daphnes on this blog before. Now that Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’ is in full bloom by the front door, I have noticed that anyone who comes to call has their nose buried in her lovely flowers when I open the door.
I love the scent of Chimonanthus praecox too. I have mentioned before that I grew this from seed. They are very easy from seed but they do take at least 7 years to bloom. I probably wouldn’t have done it if I had known. I had to dig it up and keep it in a pot for a while when I moved. It sulked for a year or two but now it is flowering again happily. They need a position where they can get baked by the sun to flower well.
Also in the front garden for the delectation of passers-by I have Mahonia japonica which is just coming into flower and smells deliciously of lily-in-the -valley. If you want a sweet smelling mahonia, this is the one to go for. Mahonia x media ‘Charity’ is lovely but it has just about finished flowering now and it does not smell nearly as sweet or as strong as this one.
Another pale yellow shrub with deliciously fragrant flowers is Coronilla valentina subsp. glauca ‘Citrina’. This has been living in the greenhouse but the scent is so delicious that I have decided to risk it by the back door so that I can see more of it. If the nights get too cold I will have to bring it in to the house.
The pretty pink flowers of Viburnum x bodnantense ‘ Dawn’ are pleasantly fragrant and bloom on bare branches. They have got a little damaged by a hard frost this year.
My favourite winter-flowering Viburnum is the pure white Viburnum farreri ‘Candidissimum’. You don’t see it very often but it is worth seeking out. It needs to grow under trees to prevent the frost burning its flowers. I am afraid mine looks a little sorry for itself at the moment so I shan’t show you it today.
Viburnum tinus is flowering away all over the garden. I know evergreen shrubs are useful, but these leaves are dull looking and, as I keep saying, they smell. If you don’t believe me, go and sniff yours after it has been raining. Yuck. Anyway if you are determined to get one, ‘Eve Price’ is the one to go for.
Skimmias smell lovely when the flowers open in the spring. The buds are a joy to look at all winter. Incidentally, they are very easy to propagate from cuttings.
More delicious fragrance is provided by the musky smell of Sarcococca hookeriana var. digyna which drifts all round the garden. This and Lonicera x purpusii ‘Winter Beauty’ are essential for a sweet smelling winter garden. This Lonicera is more floriferous than the more usually seen Lonicera fragrantissima.
In the greenhouse I have the early flowering Camellia sasanqua ‘Hugh Evans‘ in bloom. It is quite a small flowered one, but very pretty. I have been admiring the lovely red Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’ on a lot of blogs I follow. Maybe next year I will treat myself to one.
Many of the roses have flowered valiantly all winter and it is time they had a rest. I have to agree with Reginald Farrer that they do look like ‘withered moths‘ by now. Well, this one does, poor thing.
Climbing up the fence and in bloom now is Chaenomeles ‘Madame Butterfly. The flowers are a pretty salmon pink and white. On the same fence I have a young Clematis cirrhosa ‘Wisley Cream’
A tree that I wouldn’t be without is the winter flowering cherry; Prunus x subhirtella ‘Autumnalis rosea’. This is the pink form but I love the white one two. The flowers are so much daintier than the spring flowering cherries.
On the ground there are quite a lot of treasures in bloom. Quite a few hellebores are out. I have noticed before that it is always the paler colours that come out first.
I have shown the last two Helleborus foetidus photos to show you how the seedlings vary.
The Summer Snowflake; Leucojum aestivum which I used in a vase on Monday has plenty more flowers. I have never seen it bloom in winter before.
More seasonal are the lovely little winter aconites; Eranthis hyemalis which have pushed their little button heads up everywhere. If these little treasures are happy they seed around prolifically. I like to grow them in drifts with snowdrops and dainty little Cyclamen coum. They look like bacon and eggs.
Most people are familiar with the winter flowering Iris unguicularis but it has a close relation from Turkey which you don’t see so often. It is called Iris lazica. The flowers are very similar but it has glossy green leaves.
Narcissus minor ‘Cedric Morris’ was in bloom for Christmas Day and it is still going strong. The flowers last for a long time. The next daffodil to bloom in my garden is the January flowering Narcissus ‘Rijnveld’s Early Sensation’. The buds look as if they are about to open.
I have some snowdrops in flower but this is getting long enough so I will write a special snowdrop post another day. For now I will finish with two little harbingers of Spring a species crocus and a primrose.
Do join in with Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day and show us what you have in flower this January and on the 15th of every month. It is hosted by Carol at Maydreaamgardens. If you go over there, you will see what Carol and gardeners round the world have in bloom.
As so many of the plants I have written about today are scented, Christina suggested that I link in with Wellywoman who is interested in starting a ‘Scent in the Garden’ meme. What better time to start a meme like this than in January when so many shrubs are scenting the air?