Winter has arrived. The sodden ground has frozen solid and there is a light dusting of snow. I have been trying to introduce scent as a major element in the garden with mixed results. I sometimes read of plants whose scent “fills the air” but in reality is quite elusive. A still day with just a hint of warmth or moisture is often required. Another factor is that scent is intensely personal. One that delivers on all fronts, at least for me, is Sarcococca or sweet box. The plant above is Sarcococca confusa, photographed this morning. It is covered in tiny flowers but also retains some black berries. It is easy to grow and also easy to propagate as it produces small rooted suckers. The scent is powerful and does carry. A couple of sprigs will last a week indoors. It is sometimes a welcome finding in municipal planting schemes, a bank of it is prominent in Princes Street gardens in Edinburgh.
Another plant that seems to work is Mahonia. The one below is Mahonia japonica bealei. It is a little softer and less alien in appearance than some of the other varieties. I can also recommend Viburnum bodnantese Charles Lamont. I have put mine in the wrong place i.e. in the middle of a border where I have to clamber over other plants to appreciate its scent and lovely flowers. One reliable avenue to winter scent is to have some of the numerous evergreen plants whose foliage you can crush e.g. Rosemary, Choisya (Aztec pearl is good), Helichrysum and many others.
I placed four Buddleia Buzz, a dwarf variety, outside the kitchen patio doors. This was to attract butterflies and was very successful as you can see in this video:
This variety has quite short broad bright green leaves. It flowers a great deal with a good scent. It seems to have lost some of Buddleia’s traditional drought resistance. Two of the plants are in containers and need quite a bit of water. The ones in the ground are easier to maintain. When I walk out of the kitchen a cloud of butterflies rises. The video is from August 2015 with music played by me.
Autumn 2015 has been long and unusually warm over the whole country although we seem to be paying for it now with all the rain. With no hard frosts many plants continued to grow and to flower, a great bonus. The accompanying images are from October 10th. Geraniums, Crocosmia and catmint are in flower. The rose Golden Showers had a major autumn flush and flowered into December. Also seen below is Cosmos Gazebo White (cheap seeds from Wilko). This got off to a very slow start with the cold May and June but then produced hundreds of flowers. The rose is Lady Salisbury.
Christmas day continued the mild theme. I mowed the lawn on Christmas Eve. The day itself featured a variety of plants in flower including various roses (including Schoolgirl above), Erigeron, lavender, hellebores, Escallonia amongst the perhaps expected but unusually vigorous pansies, Viburnum Charles Lamont, Schizostylis and Sarcococca. Daffodils are on the way up and Japanese quince are in bud. This was the norm in Somerset where we lived previously but up here the garden is usually hibernating by now.
Well, we had a brief taste of winter in December 2015 as you can see. The heavy snow began to thaw then froze rapidly gluing many plants to the ground. The Sputnik like objects are my new rusted iron obelisks from Leander plant supports. I spent ages trying to find something between the cheap wiry ones and the massively heavy and expensive structures best suited to stately homes. They are each supporting Rose “A Shropshire Lad”. These are first season, planted bare root last spring and have done pretty well.
Happy New Year from a wet and grey North Yorkshire. This blog is an attempt to express my passion for my garden, to record its development and, hopefully, to give some useful information and pleasure. The garden is composed of two rectangular walled gardens, 16x9m and 12x8m linked by a narrow opening. They are sheltered, particularly the rearmost. Here you can sit in comfort for much of the year. The long axis of each lies a couple of degrees off a north south line with the house on the eastern aspect. The header image above is from October 15, 2015 in this Indian summer. There is also a very small front garden. I have been here for two years and am gradually modifying an already established garden. I am no expert!