Fruity, flowery or vanilla-like, sensuous and mesmerizing, the fragrance of certain winter flowers is anything but low-key.
A foretaste of spring that is perfect to sample during the cold season.
Winter blooming, a battle of seduction
To attract the few remaining pollinating insects still active in winter, flowers double down on all senses, especially the sense of smell! The flowers of the winter-blooming shrubs sure know how to catch attention, releasing such fruity, honey-like, vanilla or flowery scents that it would be a crime to disdain.
Take your pick from the different varieties described below. Plant these near your main door or along an oft-traveled path, a bit sheltered from drafts, so that you may savor that bubble of fragrance during the entire blooming. Also check that your plants aren’t exposed to the East. Indeed, easterly morning sun might damage their buds when quickly thawing frozen buds.
Fragrant winter flowers for ordinary soil
Among the several hardy, easy-going shrubs there is wintersweet. It bears little yellow bells that release a spicy, exotic-fruit fragrance in February. Set it up in the sun.
Same thing for the winter honeysuckle – Lonicera fragrantissima – a sure bet as regards fragrance, and an easy plant to succeed in growing.
Fragrant winter flowers for rich soil
In cool, rich and well-draining soil, winter viburnum do just great, with their jasmine-like and vanilla fragrance (try out the hardy Viburnum x bodnantense). Planted in part shade, daphne ‘bois joli’ will appeal to you with its sensuous odor that also is a bit reminiscent of jasmine.
Chinese witch-hazel or Hamamelis mollis, with yellow or orange flowers, is another option, as is mahonia which smells like thrush. Both will appreciate growing in part sun.
Not notorious at all, Sarcococca humilis or sweet box can be planted in pots. One way for those whose garden soil isn’t very humus-rich to still savor its delicious vanilla-like fragrance.
Fragrant winter flowers for acidic soil
If your soil is rich and and acidic, you can plant, in part sun, a Corylopsis pauciflora which has an early spring blooming smelling of oranges. Camellia sasanqua is another possible choice, to set up in anywhere from full sun to shade. In areas with mild climates, mimosa trees offer their delicate pompoms that smell like rice powder. Elsewhere, Skimmia japonica appreciates cool soil: male ‘Rubella’ plants won’t bear fruit but their lily-of-the-valley-scented flowers are very agreeable.