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Posts Tagged ‘winter scent’

A friend asked me what could she plant to give her interest in her South London garden at this time of the year, and heading towards Spring, and I came out with some hopefully useful suggestions (below), but I forgot to mention Vinca difformis ssp. sardoa (above). What a great plant for winter colour!

And evergreen foliage, which always looks vibrant and fresh. Its generous-sized flowers are a very pleasing pale violety blue, which flower from December until April or May and then again intermittently for the rest of the year. What’s not to love! This is no delicate little periwinkle. It’s a robust plant that grows to about 60cm high and it’s even starting scrambling much higher up an old tree trunk. As with other Vincas, it’s happily romping away in its shady spot, but it’s easy to pull up (and transplant elsewhere) if it’s getting a little too exuberant.

And she could also plant: Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ for a delicate wee flower and a stonkingly sweet scent,

Sarcococcas for more ‘knock-your-socks-off’ perfume (also with evergreen foliage),

Hellebores (this one above is the very upright ‘Anna’s Red’) flowering from now and well into March,

snowdrops popping up around now and into February/March (try Eurobulbs for great -‘in the green’ snowdrops to plant in March for next year’s display),

rich Chaenomeles blooms (aka flowering quince) for late February,

which I saw as gorgeous front garden hedging in Stockwell last year

(red and white varieties equally stunning-and great for supplying early nectar),

crocuses in Feb,

and Cardimine quinquefolia for delicate lilac flowers in March.

Plus all your Narcissi, Daffodils and Jonquils from now until April and May (start ordering bulbs for these in September for autumn planting). Above is Narcissus cantabricus, which I espied at Wisley back in 2014.

P.S. The lovely Wendy Shillam @Rooftopvegplot also suggests planting an autumn/winter flowering Cherry tree (Prunus subhirtella Autumnalis) for beautifully delicate flowers at this time of year. She’s not wrong.Thanks Wendy!

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Iris unguicularis Mary BarnardI just popped out to place a new bird feeder (more about this later) in the back garden when I noticed that this gorgeous Iris unguicularis ‘Mary Barnard’ has started to flower. I bought this plant last February at the RHS early spring show (this year’s show is Fri 21st and Sat 22nd Feb) and am very pleased to see it bloom so early as Hellebores and snowdrops are yet to flower (although my Eriobotrya is still in bloom).

Iris unguicularis Mary Barnard 2Mary Barnard reaches about 10 inches (25cm) tall, so I had to carefully get down on hands and knees to see if I could detect a scent. It’s a small and gentle perfume, but it’s definitely there (and possibly more on a sunnier day?). This Iris hasn’t taken long to start to clump up and looks like there’s quite a few more blooms to follow, so I’m quietly delighted!

squirrel acrobatically noshing from squirrel proof bird feederMeanwhile, other antics in the garden are not quite so pleasing. Here’s a furry beast gorging itself from a squirrel-proof bird feeder,

Relaxed one-legged approachand back again with the more relaxed one-legged approach. Although more than a tad annoyed that yet another attempt to feed the birds has been hijacked by this irritating pest, my fury is also laced with a sneaking admiration for such confident and agile acrobatics.

Still, an air rifle would come in handy every now and then! I hear they make a nice pie.

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Eriobotya in bloom_Winter fragrance has to be the icing on the cake for this gorgeous shrub. I wrote a post some while back about all year round scent and I was scratching my head for plants that would perfume the air in early winter. Clusters of these creamy white blooms have appeared all over what is now a small-ish tree in my back garden, supplying an intoxicating, very sweet, honey-ish, mellow fragrance that I imagine could perfume a high quality soap! I can’t remember if there was such an abundance of blossom last November, and maybe this year’s wealth of flowers is due to our hot summer. Fruit develops over winter, ripening in early summer, but again, I can’t recall seeing a really ripe fruit to try one, or did the squirrels manage (as ever) to get there before me? I must be more vigilant next year.

Erriobotya,  in bloom 3Also known as a Loquat or Japanese Medlar,  Eriobotyra japonica can easily be pruned to keep it as a large shrub and it’s a plant I see in many gardens (front and back) where I live in North London. Universally described as architectural, its multi stemmed form creates a generous, wide canopy, with its large glossy leaves hanging candelabra-esque at the end of the branches, giving a fantastic evergreen structure.

Erriobotya, underside of leavesOn late summer evenings, the velvety, paler underside of the leaves magically seem to catch the last rays of the day, providing another reason (should I need one) why this shrub/tree is greatly cherished in my N.London back garden.

P.S.

A few people have asked how hardy this plant is in the UK. Good question!

Architectural Plants say on their website that this plant is hardy in the home counties. I spoke to the lovely people at Big Plant Nursery, who said that it was a really hardy plant, but avoid planting in exposed sites and possibly wrap up smaller plants in cold weather until the plant is well established. It’s also supplied by Victoriana Nusery in Kent and the Palm centre in Richmond in London. If you do grow Eriobotrya japonica outside the home counties in the UK, do let me know!

P. P.S

Loquat and almond cakeNow in June, and my loquat tree has produced a good crop of fruits. This is a most tasty loquat and almond cake (from a Diana Henry recipe)!

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