As I stepped into my garden earlier this week, I was captured by a breath-taking fragrance. I went in search of its source – and there on the other side of the fence was a magnificent Sarcococca! I love this reliable evergreen shrub. It has an intense (but not overpowering) perfume. Better still, it’s spidery, creamy white flowers are always busy with bees and other insects in early spring.
©Thompson & Morgan Sarcococca confusa
Last month was the mildest February since records began, and it seems to have brought out a flurry of early blooms in the garden. A walk around our plant nursery is a treat for the senses!
Old favourites like Mahonia aquifolium and Lonicera x purpusii ‘Winter Beauty’ are in full swing. It’s easy to understand why they are so popular. These reliable shrubs are undemanding and their rich perfume will make you want to linger outdoors, even on a chilly day.
Now maybe it’s just me, but I have never noticed so many Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ as I have this year – they seem to have taken a real surge in popularity! Not that I’m complaining – they make a handsome shrub, all year round, with their glossy, evergreen foliage. At this time of the year, they are in their prime. Clusters of sugar pink, star-shaped flowers make an elegant display. Their powerful fragrance fills the garden with a rich, perfume.
One fragrant shrub that deserves to be more widely planted is Edgworthia chrysantha. While wandering the nursery the silky flowers stood out against its bare stems, releasing a gentle scent on the spring breeze. It’s a good choice for a sheltered position in the dappled shade of trees. An absolute treasure in spring!
Spring perfume doesn’t need to be reserved for the garden. There are plenty of bulbs that will deliver a powerful punch indoors each spring. Fragrant Narcissus are some of my favourites. The scent is subtle with a delicate floral note, and the flowers are relentlessly cheerful!
Hyacinth bulbs make a showy display indoors too, but I do find that they suffer from the Marmite effect. Love them, or hate them – you will definitely notice the powerful perfume if you welcome them into your home. Personally I will be leaving my Hyacinths just outside the back door for now!
Plants and gardens have always been a big part of my life. I can remember helping my Dad to prick out seedlings, even before I could see over the top of the potting bench. As an adult, I trained at Writtle College where I received my degree, BSc. (Hons) Horticulture. After working in a specialist plantsman’s nursery, and later, as a consulting arboriculturalist, I joined Thompson & Morgan in 2008. Initially looking after the grounds and coordinating the plant trials, I now support the web team offering horticultural advice online. I have a keen interest in drought resistant plants and a passion for perennials, particularly hardy Geraniums. I’m a regional secretary for the International Plant Propagation Society which gives me lots of opportunities to see what other horticulturalists are up to in their nurseries and gardens.