When the daytime temperature is hovering around freezing, it is hard to appreciate the scented plants in the winter garden, but with temperatures above 10°C / 50°F these last two weeks, I’ve actually been able to notice some of the perfumes of the plants that have to work extra hard to attract pollinators at this time of year.
First up is this Witch Hazel. It gave absolutely glorious autumn shades of rich orange leaves that started very early and now it gives wonderful coppery orange and yellow tipped cellophane-like flowers that give off a delicious scent.
It’s difficult to appreciate the flowers against the sugar-cane mulch, but once the low-growing Rhododendrons fill out, these little flowers will really shine against the deep green, sombre leaves.
Next up is the “secret garden” area (which is an overly grand name for garden beds so new, but within a few years it will be an enclosed, cacoon-like space with soft camellia hedges and climbing roses scrambling through them).
Although a small space, this area is the highest part of the garden (1,100m /3,600′ ASL) and has distant views over valleys and other mountains; it is a total sun-trap from late autumn to early spring and it is possibly the most sheltered area of the garden, being surrounded by outbuildings and hedges which also make it largely frost-free and always a few degrees warmer than the rest of the garden.
Here the first of the erlicheer jonquils are already looking towards the season ahead.
When this first started blooming the scent from this one little bulb was heady and sweet, filling the entire space.
As a couple more of the batch of bulbs opened, the scent was so beautiful and the bright yellow flowers lit up the shadows.
I was excited to wait for the subsequent batch to bloom: imagine a dozen of these filling a sheltered 10m² / 110sqft space and the anticipation of scented, sunny days with a hot cup of coffee…and then this opened:
The smell alerted me to it: when I entered the enclosed space it was like a thousand stray cats had all used my secret garden as a litter box.
Oh, the putrid ammonia rich urea-like stench. How could something so pretty be so foul?
Needless to say, the top came off, went straight into the bottom of the compost heap and the bulb has been tagged for relocation somewhere where it can be seen and not smelled!
Obviously I am one of those 40% of the population who react badly to Indole (the compound responsible for the smell of paper-whites)!
Happy gardening 🙂