We love our violets, of course we do holding the national collection and we think that they are the most fantastic late winter early spring plant with their delightful highly fragrant purple, mauve, pink or white flowers and it’s the sweet scent you often notice first not the flowers.
They are a real delight and we believe every garden needs fragrance, and throughout the year, so as well as our sweetly scented violets we’ve some suggestions for other plants to give your garden a fragrance boost over the winter and early spring months.
An essential winter evergreen, the neat glossy pointed foliage on more or less upright growth almost hides the small creamy flowers that line the stems - but the exceptional fragrance gives them away.
Performing as soon as the sun peeps out on even the iciest days, it thrives in sun or partial shade and most soils. Black berries follow the flowers.
Lonicera × purpusii ‘Winter Beauty’
From early December even into April, this prolific winter bush honeysuckle opens its creamy flowers on bare stems and the scent from this deciduous or semi-evergreen shrub will certainly stop you in your tracks. An invaluable addition to the garden in winter it can look a bit insignificant when the green leaves appear so it is best planted with a summer –flowering Viticella clematis to give summer interest
Hamamelis × intermedia ‘Vesna’
Surprisingly, perhaps, many witch hazels provide us with little or no scent - so depriving us of one of winter’s special pleasures.
However, the rich orange flowers of ‘Vesna’, redder at the base of the petals, feature an unusually strong scent from December through to March – not to mention fiery autumn leaf colour. Its rather upright habit suits small gardens.
A few snowdrops are noted for their special fragrance, and the honey scent of ‘Magnet’ is at its most noticeable as the outer petals rise to the horizontal on sunny days.
A most elegant snowdrop, the large flowers have an inverted green 'V' on the inner petals, hang on distinctive long, arching stems and tremble in the slightest breeze.
Viburnum × bodnantense ‘Deben’
A Viburnum with pink buds that open to white flowers over a remarkably long period, sometimes starting as early as October and continuing to April.
Happy in most fertile soils in sun, protection from icy winds is helpful.
Chimonanthus praecox ‘Luteus’
Trained against a south or west facing wall, where the sun-ripened shoots will bloom most prolifically, the sweet scent of the clusters of unmarked yellow flowers wafts around the garden in late winter.
The foliage is aromatic, too. Appreciates well drained soil
Daphne Odora ‘Auereomarginata’
An evergreen bushy shrub, frost hardy with glossy dark green leaves and from mid-winter to early spring very fragrant deep purplish-pink-and-white flowers
Mahonias are impressive winter-flowering shrubs which make an imposing feature in a border with yellow flowers whose scent is reminiscent of lily-of-the-valley and it has leaves that are glossy, evergreen and pinnate - that is, divided into pairs of spiky leaflets. They often take on red or purple tints when the weather turns cold.
The flowers are often followed by small, plum-coloured fruits much loved by birds.
Try Mahonia japonica or Mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun’
Elaeagnus x ebbingei
An evergreen Elaeagnus with metallic silvery foliage and small white flowers, but in November the sweet perfume is really noticeable. Can be grown as a specimen or as a hedge.