Winter Flowerers

Lonicera fragrantissima growing on an arch

 I've been astonished this year at the late and generous flowering of so many roses and the way the Salvia 'Amistad' is still glowing darkly purple and the Fatsia japonica's white golf ball flowers shine out from its dark leaves. 

Fatsia japonica flowers contrast with dark leaves

But there are plants flowering in the garden now that I did, in fact, plant on purpose so they would cheer up the space during the cold months and they are doing an excellent job. 

First of all is the Viburnum bodnantense 'Dawn', a splendid shrub with very pale flowers tipped with a strong pink. I first came across this when I was doing a year's horticulture course at Capel Manor . It was a marvellous place to learn because the grounds are full of different types of gardens, including formal and woodland and specially designed miniature gardens with a wealth of  plants for all  soils and situations. 

Viburnum bodnanense 'Dawn' against a blue sky

Viburnum near the shed 

This viburnum flowers all though the winter, before the leaves come out. Mine is at the back of the garden where I can see it from the kitchen table through the bare apple tree branches. It's tall, against the wall of the shed, but will be even more effective when I eventually get around to painting the shed a dark blue. (I have bought the paint!) Branches look lovely indoors and it has a delicious strongly vanilla scent. 

This reminds me of the other winter flowering Viburnum, V. burkwoodii, (I , (I think) in the front garden. Unfortunately I don't go out of the front door much at the moment so I kind of forget what's going on out there. But it's a similar,  shrub, possibly a parent of bodnantense -  paler, but with lots of very scented flowers. I hope the delivery people are enjoying it.

Another shrub that catches me by surprise was given as a cut flower by a friend in Suffolk. I planted one bare twig straight into the ground near a metal arch and it immediately took root. The white flowers are quite insignificant but it is also highly scented and and it's when I'm strolling under it that I notice it. 

Sweetest honeysuckle: insignificant but so scented 

There is often the odd brave bumble bee searching out its nectar. Birds like it too. This one is Lonicera fragrantissima, commonly known as winter honeysuckle or sweetest honeysuckle (I like that). It often grows into a large ungainly bush. I encourage mine to grow round the arch and keep it well cut back elsewhere so it doesn't grab too much space. 

Lonicera fragrantissima elegant indoors

Another welcome flowerer is the Garrya elliptica with its greeny yellow bells falling in a bunch of long ribbons that is in full splendour now - it's rather hidden away next to a golden privet but worth a visit on the garden rounds. It  makes quite a contrast to the shiny round black berries on the Viburnum tinus next to it. It's not scented but looks superb in a vase. Mine is 'James Roof' which has specially long and elegant catkins. 

Garrya elliptica with berries of Viburnum tinus 

Garrya elliptica 'James Roof'

I'm slightly worried about the bumble bees. Because of the trend of warmer weather, they are not so keen to go dormant and then when the weather does freeze perhaps in January and February, they are vulnerable. But at least, I tell myself, there's always going to be something in my garden for them to nourish themselves on.