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Top 5 plants for winter scent

The first of February and it’s a cold and wet day. Outside, people are dashing around, heads bowed, trying to get from one warm dry place to another as quick as possible. With another month until spring flowers arrive and trees start coming into leaf it’s easy to think there’s no enjoyment to be had from the garden. But you need to do more than just look with your eyes. What you need to do is use your nose and SMELL!

There are some fantastic trees and shrubs available at the nurseries with ‘stop-you-in-your-tracks’ scents that can’t do anything but lift your spirits on a cold wet morning.

So here’s my list of top 5 winter-scented plants for the garden:

1. Daphne bholua 'Jacqueline Postill'

An evergreen shrub with highly fragrant citrus-sweet pinky-white flowers. It’s a slow grower and notoriously hard to propagate – hence the high price tag. But worth every penny. Holds the RHS ‘Award of Garden Merit’ * As a substitute, go for Daphne Odorata.

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2. Sarcococca confusa

An evergreen shrub with dark glossy leaves and small white flowers, which whilst nothing to look at, pack a real (sweet) punch that you can smell from 5 metres away. Tends to flower very early in the year, hence the name ‘Christmas Box’. A great plant for hedging.

Holds the RHS ‘Award of Garden Merit’ *

3. Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’

A large shrub with clusters of pink flowers on bare stems arriving before the end of the year and through into early spring. Intoxicating smell and the cut stems look fantastic in a vase in the house. No need to ask for pot pourri for Christmas! Holds the RHS ‘Award of Garden Merit’ *

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4. Lonicera x purpusii 'Winter Beauty'

A winter-flowering honeysuckle which will be a delight for your nose. Like the Viburnum, it flowers on bare stems from Dec to March. Grow it against a sunny wall to get the best of the flowers but it’s happy in semi-shade.

Holds the RHS ‘Award of Garden Merit’ * As an alternative, try the aptly-named Lonicera fragrantissima.

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5. Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’

With their spidery yellow/orange/red flowers brightening up the garden in the depths of winter, everyone should plant a witch hazel. There’s numerous varieties (Hamamelis x intermedia being the most common), but you’ll find the yellow-flowering ones, such as Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’ have the best scents. Holds the RHS ‘Award of Garden Merit’ *

If it’s bright yellow flowers aren’t your thing try ‘Gingerbread’ for orange and ‘Rubin’ for deep red tones.

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* The Award of Garden Merit is a mark of quality awarded, since 1922, to garden plants (including trees, vegetables and decorative plants) by the BritishRoyal Horticultural Society (RHS)

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