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Winter in the garden can be uninspiring. Most plants for winter lack colour and impact, and the choice is quite limited. But don’t hibernate indoors – one of the best features of a winter garden is fragrance.

Many winter plants that lack large, showy flowers make up for it with heady perfume. Grow them near doors, gates and pathways so they waft you with their scent as you come and go. It’s the perfect welcome home on a cold winter’s night.

Witch hazel

witch-hazel-flowers-branches-spring-yellow-flowering

Witch Hazel

Hammamelis is a striking plant that bears yellow and orange flowers along its bare branches. They have thin, spidery petals and a rich scent. It needs acidic soil but does grow happily in containers if your garden is alkaline.

Daphne

© Keith Edkins / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Daphne bholua. © Keith Edkins / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Daphne is an evergreen shrub with heady scented four-petal flowers. Try D. bholua for deep pinky flowers with white centres. Or D. odora has red-purple flowers and pale centres with yellow-edged leaves.

Sarcococca

sarcococca HTA plant of the month December 2014

Sarcococca

This is also known as sweet box. It’s a bushy evergreen shrub that has dark, leathery leaves. It looks quite unimposing but it bears tiny creamy-white flowers that have a super-sweet scent, followed by glossy black berries.

Viburnum x bodnantense

© Giraffenigel / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Viburnum x bodnantense. © Giraffenigel / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

This deciduous shrub has dark green leaves with toothy edges. It has tight clusters or pink flowers throughout winter that have a delicious scent. These are followed by blue-black berries in spring.

Wintersweet

winterseet-flowering-shrub

Wintersweet

Chimonanthus praecox is a woody shrub with striking yellow flowers along its branches. The blooms are cup-shaped and hang down, releasing their intoxicating fragrance. It is fully hardy but likes a sheltered spot.

Miniature Iris

miniature-iris-reticulata

Iris reticulata © Ghislain118 / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Miniature iris are so delicate and ideal for containers. But it’s their gentle scent that makes them so great for winter gardens. Try Iris reticulata or unguicularis for elegant purple and blue flowers in window boxes.

Mahonia

mahonia-scented-yellow-winter-flowers

Mahonia

Mahonia is an evergreen shrub with spiky, leathery leaves. In winter it produces long draping stems covered in pale yellow flowers that have a delicate scent. In early spring the flowers give way to blue-black berries.

Honeysuckle

© Zeynel Cebeci / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Lonicera fragrantissima. © Zeynel Cebeci / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Winter-flowering honeysuckle is ideal for growing by the back door. Two great varieties are Lonicera fragrantissima and Lonicera x purpussii. Both produce delicate creamy-white flowers on bare branches with a pungent perfume.

Plus, check out these yellow-flowering winter plants!


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