Winter flowering shrubs which bring colour or scent, preferably both, are to be welcomed during the cold months of January and February. I like to plant them near the house so that they can be viewed from a kitchen window or where I can smell them on the way to the front door.
1.Hamamelis (Witch hazel).
Lovely spicy scented spidery flowers, in yellow or orange-red, in winter. An open sunny position with good moisture is best. They need little pruning and can be grown successfully in pots as long as the compost doesn’t dry out.
Daphnes have the most wonderful scent so plant them near the house or along a path. They like humus-rich soil but dislike waterlogging; D. mezereum is more tolerant of heavy soils. Roots like to be kept cool, so mulch in spring. D. bholua ‘Jacqueline Postil’ (AGM) is a good choice with deep pink, very fragrant flowers. I have a lovely D. odora ‘Aureomarginata”which has nice yellow-edged leaves and purple fragrant flowers.
3. Viburnum tinus
A great plant for a shady moist area, it will sit unnoticed until the small pinkish buds open into scented white flowers, followed by deep blue berries. It is a useful plant for shaded courtyards, where it will draw you outside in winter to appreciate the scent. ‘Eve Price’ is a popular cultivar but I also like ‘Gwenllian’; both have been awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM), as has ‘French White’.
4. Chimonanthus praecox (Wintersweet)
Chimonanthus means “winter flowering” and this shrub produces really interesting many-petalled yellow flowers, highly fragrant, during winter. It’s best grown in a sheltered position, perhaps against the house wall.
A structural plant with interesting spiky evergreen leaves, that does need space to grow. You will really begin to notice it once the perennials have died back and its strongly scented yellow flowers emerge, sometimes followed by blue-black berries. Mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun’ has bright yellow flowers; M.japonica has drooping sprays of fragrant light-yellow flowers throughout winter.
All these shrubs are freely available and should bring colour and scent to your winter garden.