In a Vase on Monday. Winter Fragrance.

There are so many plants to give interest and distinction to the winter garden and I am always seeking out new ones. I have several books on winter gardening and they have chapters on winter colour, interesting plant structure, leaves, bark and berries. But none of my books say much about the most exciting thing in the winter garden. One of the great pleasures of January is sniffing out the various delicious scents that plants use to entice early bees.  The flowers  all have a delicate, fragile beauty, they don’t use gaudy dress to entice pollinators, just delicious scents that waft round the garden on the breeze, intoxicating any passing bees and me. So my vase today is dedicated entirely to fragrant flowers.

At last the queen of the winter garden is opening her dark pink buds to reveal a sophisticated, sweet perfume which stops visitors to my house in their tracks as it grows by my front door. Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’ is the very best of her tribe.

Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’

I have two winter flowering honeysuckles, and both smell fabulous. Lonicera x purpusii ‘Winter Beauty’ is a large shrub and is full of delicious smelling cream flowers borne in pairs along the branch.

Lonicera x purpusii ‘Winter beauty’

Lonicera elisae is quite rare and the shrub is more beautiful with fragrant tubular pink flowers which are hairy.

Lonicera elisae

One of my favourite winter flowering shrubs is Chimonanthus praecox which has yellow claw-like flowers on bare branches. The centres of the flowers are maroon and the scent is exquisite.

Chimonanthus praecox

Sarcococca is a winter flowering shrub with far too many ‘c’s’ but I wouldn’t be without it. The walkway from the car park at Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire is lined with and the scent is amazing. I would like to copy this idea but they are expensive to buy. But still Sarccococca hookeriana var. digyna does sucker, so perhaps one day I might have a hedge of it. The tufty flowers smell of honey with a musky overtone which some people dislike but I love it.

Sarccococca hookeriana var. digyna

Sarcococca confusa, bottom left in the next picture has darker green leaves and cream flowers and produces lots of black berries which I have never got round to sowing.

I have several Witch Hazels in bloom now and I have used a couple of twigs, one from lovely ‘Vesna’ and one from ‘Orange Peel’ which I always think smells vaguely of orange peel, but this is perhaps the power of association but still it is very sweet. The scent of Witch Hazels is often undetectable in the garden but when you bring it into the warmth of the house it is lovely.

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Vesna’

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Orange Peel’

I love the tattery, crazy sea anemone flowers of Witch Hazels and I have lots of them, but not as many as the Witch Hazel queen, Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.

The other three shrubs I used are Mahonia media ‘Winter Sun’ with yellow flowers that smell of Lily of the Valley,  a sprig of a bright blue Rosemary which blooms all through the winter and pink Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’.

The blue flower of the Algerian Iris unguicularis unfolds in water and is lightly scented. Quite a few snowdrops are scented, the one I have used is Galanthus ‘Ginn’s Imperati’ which has a sweet fragrance when you bring it indoors. This vase has been sitting on my table for an hour or so now and the scent in my dining room is absolutely gorgeous.


In a Vase on Monday is hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden and no matter what the season she never runs out of creative ways of inspiring us to bring some of the garden indoors to enjoy.

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36 Responses to In a Vase on Monday. Winter Fragrance.

  1. Cathy says:

    Ah, our vases are quite similar in a way, but definitely not in scale! It’s amazing that your books don’t really focus on fragrance at all – in fact it beggars belief because it is one of the main attractions. Thank you for sharing all these winter joys, every one a delight (even the mahonia flower!). My lonicera are not flowering yet, but the bud on Jacqueline Posthill is opening – very exciting! Ginns Imperati is one of my no-shows this year, sadly ps if you pressed me, I might admit to having bought (but with Christmas gift vouchers) another witch hazel last week…I didn’t mean to, honest…

    • Chloris says:

      You bought another one? It just fell into your car when you opened your boot I expect . That sort of thing happens to me all the time. How many do you have now? Which one did you buy? I think I might need a new one too, I haven’t got nearly enough.

      • Cathy says:

        I knew you would understand – but I blame the Golfer! We went to buy another C Freckles and passed a display of witch hazels, two of which I didn’t have, and he asked if I wanted one. I assured him I didn’t – and didn’t have space for another anyway – so we just bought Freckles and came home. I was doing my usual swim the next morning, and it came to me there WAS somewhere I could put one AND had vouchers that would all but cover the cost, so I went back and bought Rubin. They were exceedingly good value, actually, especially considering how much I paid for my last two, and it’s unusual to see ones I haven’t got. And now I really don’t have anywhere for any more, so the total will stay at 13 (till the next time!)….

  2. Noelle says:

    That is a great collection of winter beauties.

  3. Jennifer Tetlow Stone Sculpture says:

    Such exotic flowers – I feel like a plant hunter visiting all the blogs with vases, and love your descriptions too. I wish I was nearer, as I’d visit right away to sample the treat at your front door

  4. You have so many winter blooms. I have either lived where it was freezing everyday or semitropical where we expect to have flowers in the winter. That is interesting about the bees and makes sense. As I always say, nature is amazing.

  5. Goodness that must be a heady mix Chloris. Lovely

  6. Kris P says:

    What a range of fragrant flowers you have! I wish I had more scent in my garden. It doesn’t help that my sense of smell isn’t well-developed to start with but still I can’t lay claim to many flowers known specifically for their fragrance. I had Sarcococca in my old garden and should try it in this one as I can still remember being grabbed by that scent while walking by the shrub. I invested in a Daphne odora (the only species I know of that has a chance of growing in my climate) several months ago on a whim and, somewhat to my amazement, it has buds now, if not yet any flowers – whether it can survive our summer heat, even in partial shade, remains to be seen.

    • Chloris says:

      Daphne bholua wouldn’t do for you, it comes from the mountains of Nepal. It is a pity because Jacqeline Postill is by far the most beautiful. Good luck with your Daphne odora.

  7. A scentsational mix, I wish I was there to inhale the fragrance, sounds like perfume – I did not realize there was a winter blooming Iris, but remember Winter Honeysuckle and Wintersweet well. My Dombeya has a lovely scent I am enjoying.

    • Chloris says:

      I wish you were here to sniff it too Amy and to stroll round the garden and have a coffee. Or I could make you some soup to have with the Pianist’s homemade bread. Then we could whizz over to Florida on our magic carpet and enjoy your fabulous Dombeya.

  8. Eliza Waters says:

    Sounds like a little slice of heaven in a vase!

  9. pbmgarden says:

    How lovely. I admire daphne and am intrigued by your Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’.
    Have asked for it in garden centers but no one seems familiar with it locally. Just looked again online and one grower (not in US) describes it as deciduous, but later refers to it as semi-evergreen. My daphne keeps its leaves year-round. Anyway, the accent on fragrance is a nice aspect to feature.

    • Chloris says:

      My Jacqueline Postill loses its leaves in winter, my friend has one that keeps most of its leaves, but it is in a sheltered spot. I prefer the flowers on bare branches they show up much better. It is a fabulous shrub, I will show you in my Top Ten January Bloom post.

  10. Delicious, and you describe the scent very well, I can almost ……

  11. Looks delightful and I am certain smells wonderful. I have to admit to finding the Anglesey collection of sarcococca overwhelming.

  12. Chloris says:

    I know lots of people don’t like the smell of sarcococca as it has musky undertones but I love it. I’m going to Anglesey Abbey on Sunday, it’s always a winter treat.

  13. Anna says:

    Mmmmmm – I can smell those delicious scents from here Chloris. There is a mini hedge of sarcococca (not sure which variety) in the grounds of our local town hall. The scent is absolutely intoxicating. I have a handful of winter gardening books. I’m sure one of them devotes a good section to scent but I can’t remember the title at the moment. Will return here if it comes back to me.

  14. Oh, how I envy your fragrant blooms of January. We have nothing of the kind. Wish I could give the Daphne and Lonicera a sniff. As for the sarcococca, I think there should be a rule limiting the number of times a letter can be repeated in a plant genus name to 3.

  15. Sheryl says:

    I love the flowers. It’s still a few months here until I’ll have any flowers to put in a vase.

  16. Chloris says:

    That must be hard not having any winter flowers. Are you snowed up?

  17. snowbird says:

    Oh my, I can just imagine the scent! How lovely to have so many delicate fragrant flowers in the garden at this time of the year. Just loved them all and that adorable

  18. tonytomeo says:

    Hamamelis seem to be all the rage now, or when you posted this two weeks ago. We used to grow them, but only the garden varieties. I had to get my common witch hazel online. There are so many others that I am not familiar with.

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