Scent and spring promise

By Andy Winfield
The garden has taken a battering over the last few weeks with high winds and the heavy soil saturating rain has made gardening difficult. Despite it all there is interest with flower, colour and scent now and the promise of it in the next few weeks.

One of my favourites and a true signpost of January/February is the winter aconite (Eranthis 

Eranthus hymalis

hymalis); in a few weeks it will dot the borders with tiny butter yellow flowers. Growing naturally in deciduous woodland, this plant flowers before the leaves on trees shade out the forest floor and as the sun strengthens as it gets higher in the sky.

In the phylogeny display a small plant with a big name, Scilla mischenkoana ‘tubergentana’, is flowering its little flowers. Native to Southern Russia and Iran this plant can grow in a variety of sites, shade or full sun, drought tolerant and very tough, just plant it where you’ll be able to see!


Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’ is in full flower, you smell it before you see it as its heavy perfume drifts on the air a surprising distance. Native to Nepal you can imagine how the scent travels across the mountains to attract the elusive pollinators.
Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’

In the Mediterranean display the Corsican hellebore (Helleborus argutifolius) is in full flower and the handsome foliage gives good structure to a winter border.  It grows all over Corsica and Sardinia but unusually has never made it onto the mainland of France or Italy.

In the glasshouses orchids are flowering. Laelia anceps from Central America leans down from the corky trees and on the benches the hay scented orchid (Dendrobium glumaceum) and Venus slipper orchid (Paphiopedalum) are in full bloom.
As the weeks go by at this time of year more and more flower appears, the birds become excitable as do the bees and spring is around the corner and in our step.

by Andy Winfield
Hay scented orchid


Laelia anceps



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