Landscapes should engage the senses. Visual effect is most obvious, but what about the more subtle effect of scent. Occasionally I’ll sit in the yard, close my eyes and see what stimulates the other senses, garden-related or otherwise. The scent of fresh clean air is what usually (and thankfully) greets my nostrils. Now also the evergreen shrub elaeagnus’ heady scent perfumes the air as well. And the hum. You ought to hear the hum of hundreds of bees, wasps and other insects working the blooms of the fifteen foot tall hedges. Butterflies, too, find elaeagnus irresistible this time of the year.
What can you plant now to enjoy later in late winter’s fickle season? The following are stimulated by those warming "teaser" days in January to bloom and release wonderful scents. You can continue the pleasure by cutting to ‘bring indoors for enjoyment of both visual presentation and scent.
Wintersweet, Chimonanthus praecox, has small, waxy, yellow blooms. Blooms are noted primarily for their scent. Slow-growing shrub grows to fifteen feet and thrives in full sun to partial shade.
Winter daphne, Daphne odora, a small mounded evergreen shrub rarely grows over three feet high and displays slick, glossy leaves. Small compact clusters of white or pink blooms appear in January. For optimal performance, requires ‘light shade, prudent waterings, and well-drained soil.
Witch hazel, Hamamelis vernalis, H. mollis and H. x intermedia), display ribbon-like flowers in shades of yellow, orange or red. The scent is spicy, sweet. This deciduous plant can grow either shrub or tree form to a height of twenty feet. Plant prefers filtered light.
Winter honeysuckle, Lonicera fragrantissima, displays cream-colored flowers with a lemony, sweet smell. Spreads to a maximum of fifteen feet in both height and width. Grows in sun or shade,
Star magnolia, Magnolia stellata, displays fuzzy brown buds that open in late winter to white or faint pink, sweet-smelling blooms. Trained as tree or shrub, can grow to twenty feet. Performs well in full sun to partial shade in fertile, well-drained soil.
I’ve just scratched the surface. When you’re checking the garden centers out this fail for plantings, look for these and other wonderful winter-scenting plants.