Winter in the gardens is full of surprises. Oftentimes we think of a winter landscape as being gray, boring, and sometimes even depressing. While it may not be as vibrant as the rest of the year, there is plenty to please the eye and, if you can believe it, the nose!
My walk through the gardens this morning was intended to spot bulbs peeking out from their garden beds, but you know what they say about best-laid plans... Instead, I couldn’t help but notice there was something in the air – and boy was it aromatic! My attention was drawn to the fragrant flowers in our winter garden.
If you’ve read my blogs before, then you’re probably no stranger to Edgeworthia chrysantha or paperbush. This early flowering shade shrub is planted in a few places within the gardens, but is most evident and heavily planted in the Lower Left Wing. This funky looking plant flowers before it gets its leaves for the year, making its chandelier-like flowers evident. This sweet smelling shrub is even at easy reach from the sidewalk, all you need to do is lean over and bask in all of its glory.
This next one is probably my favorite. Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ or winter daphne is heavily fragrant. And smells like Froot Loops. Maybe it’s that nostalgia that comes with your olfactory sense being engaged, or maybe it’s because I rarely indulge in sugary cereals anymore, but I find this scent irresistible! Daphne require a well-drained soil. Overwatering, either by man or nature, can be the kiss of death. Tragically, due to the record breaking rainfall we had last winter, all but one of our daphne remains. You can find it outside the Old Kitchen, in the Lower Left Wing. Not to worry though - we do plan to supplement with more in the future!
Our next heavily, or heavenly, scented plant can be found in the Upper Right Wing. Lonicera fragrantissima or winter honeysuckle may be a bit surprising upon first glance – it was for me anyway. When I hear honeysuckle, my mind immediately envisions a vine. Imagine my surprise to see a seven foot tall shrub with a similar name! Although I generally find this plant rather unassuming, it certainly grabs my attention this time of year.
It’s hard to believe such a small flower can pack such a powerful punch! Osmanthus fragrans or fragrant olive is located throughout the gardens, and is also a common landscaping plant in our area. These large shrubs to small trees are covered with tiny flowers this time of year that sweetly perfume the air. The specimen I visited during my walk through the gardens is at the top of Oak Allée. It’s perfectly located to appreciate the beauty of the centuries old trees, while also enjoying the fragrant olive’s intoxicating scent.
If you haven’t paid us a visit lately, take advantage of this beautiful weather before it’s gone! Like many flowers, these don’t stick around for too long so make sure you plan your trip soon; your nose will thank you for it.
See you in the gardens!