Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Unsung Heroes That Deserve to Take a Bough ; GARDENS with Carol Klein of TV's Gardeners' WorldWhen All around Is Bleak and Bare, You Can Rely on These Trusty Plants to Bring Structure, Scent and Excitement for the Season to Come

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Unsung Heroes That Deserve to Take a Bough ; GARDENS with Carol Klein of TV's Gardeners' WorldWhen All around Is Bleak and Bare, You Can Rely on These Trusty Plants to Bring Structure, Scent and Excitement for the Season to Come

Article excerpt

THOUGH I'm always extolling the virtues of perennials, bulbs and grasses, I recognise that without shrubs and trees in some parts of the garden, it would lack character and form.

Such plants give vital structure and though many of them lose their leaves during winter, there are a few that choose this time of year to disport themselves.

Several have delightful flowers and often in these coldest months, those flowers are delicately perfumed to lure in the few pollinating insects who are on the wing.

In the midst of a summer garden they might be overlooked but when all around is looking bleak and bare, you can home in on them and appreciate them fully.

Some are familiar though others are more unusual. We're used to seeing Viburnum x bodnantense, with its pretty clusters of pale pink flowers on bare branches.

It often starts its display as early as October and though sometimes it can be deformed by extremely bitter weather, it recovers, producing more flowers that can carry on until the leaf buds begin to swell in March.

Most viburnums are perfumed.

Viburnum carlesii is especially fragrant and its very visible white or pale pink flowers opening from reddish buds are a delight.

Early spring is its main flowering time but sometimes we're treated to an earlier display.

Azara microphylla has yellow scented flowers although they are very different!

It is a Chilean tree, which although often grown as a wall shrub here, can reach 20ft.

It's often grown against a wall because it can be a bit tender, although it is the hardiest of its genus and seems to survive in most areas of the country.

Its fluffy flowers are produced on the underside of the twigs, not very obvious at first but its delicious vanilla perfume pervades the cold winter air.

More straightforward plants are coming into their own early this year, forsythia and Jasminum nudiflorum, both with yellow flowers, are already showing colour.

With the advent of spring, scent abounds. Many daphnes come into flower early and their flowering often continues for several months.

In this particularly mild winter, several people have said their daphnes have been flowering since early December.

Daphne 'Jacqueline Postill', an evergreen hybrid of Daphne bholua, has exquisite perfume but may need the protection of a wall.

It's just the right sort of plant to grow close to the door you use most.

In time, it will make quite a tall shrub, up to a couple of metres, but it takes a long time to get there.

Daphne cneorum is one of the best and hardiest and our own native Daphne mezereum is not to be sniffed at.

Or rather it is, since it has sweet perfume - though you may need to get down on your hands and knees to enjoy the perfume, since it is never very tall.

It flowers on bare branches and sometimes the wood is invisible beneath the dense covering of tiny purple flowers. …

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