We have been slowly building up winter interest in our garden here at Avocet for some time now. We are approaching mid-February enjoying the colours provided by flowering shrubs and trees. I decided I would take a wander with my camera to see what there was to impress us and to attract any insects out and about in search of nectar.
The first set of photos illustrates our Daphnes, D. bhuloa ‘Jacqueline Postill’, which I think emits the best aroma of all winter flowering shrubs. This year it is flowering better than ever with bigger clusters of flowers and far more of them. we grow it in the Winter Garden close to the conservatory and alongside a path to get best value!
Below this trio of pictures are of our three Witch Hazels, Hamamelis ‘Jelena’, H. ‘Harry’ and H. ‘Diane’ which are lightly and sweetly scented.
We grow lots of different willows in our garden which look good in the garden in winter, either for their coloured stems or for their beautiful catkins. My favourite is Salix gracilistyla ‘Mount Aso’ with catkins of dusky pink and grey as featured in the first 3 photos below. I took these photo just as a shower stopped and the catkins caught droplets on their hairs adding an extra dimension to this willow’s beauty
Another Salix gracilistyla variety that we grow around our wildlife pond is S. g. ‘Melanostachys’ which has stumpy catkins like Mount Aso but these are red and black. So dramatic when caught in the winter sunlight! My photos of it below show the catkins half formed but already looking good.
A willow of very different stature and differently shaped is our ‘Violet Willow’, Salix acutifolia ‘Blue Streak, although several other salix share this common name. Its catkins are the purist white and much more pointed than the two willows featured above. Later on the catkins will become more rounded and the stems dark purple-black covered in white meal. We grow ours as a pollard with a main trunk about six feet tall and from here long whippy stems emerge each spring. We pollard this willow in March each year and its stems grow a good ten feet long.
A winter flowering shrub not very often seen is Edgeworthia chrysantha which has buds showing and looking fit to open soon, when we can appreciate its yellow scented clusters of blooms on the very end of each and every stem. But for now a photo showing it in mid-February to ‘whet your appetite’.
Probably the heaviest scent of all shrubs in winter in our garden is the Sarcococca confusa. I planted one opposite the Winter Garden and right by the greenhouse door much to Jude, the Undergardener’s disgust as she hates the smell. It is a scent that is a bit of a marmite aroma – love it or hate it. Those who love it say it smells of honey while those who dislike it claim it smells of cat pee! It does however have beautiful white blooms, almost like miniature Witch Hazels, and they are followed by black and very glossy berries the size of Blackcurrants.
When we are washing up we can look out of the kitchen window and see the wonderful Cornus mas, commonly known as the Cornelian Cherry. It is such a cheerful flowering shrub with its bright yellow-green scented flowers which open on bare stems and give us weeks of interest. Later in the year these flowers are followed by red coloured grape-like berries, which once fallen to the ground re loved by blackbirds. It has the extra bonus of beautifully textured bark too.
I will finish this look at our winter-flowering shrubs in our garden with an unusual Ribes or flowering currant. Ribes laurifolium is an evergreen with deep green leathery foliage and in winter is graced with racemes of white flowers. On closer inspection you can see that the flowers are a greenish-cream rather than pure white. It is commonly known as the laurel leaved currant. We find it very slow growing in our garden so it is still a small specimen.
In my next post I shall take a wander with my camera to hand to see what winter interest climbers are putting on a performance.