Winter Scents

from The Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner – intelligent garden design software
Hamamelis x intermedia Jelena landscape design
Hamamelis x intermedia Jelena

No one wants their garden borders to be a muddy, lifeless patch in winter! Though a touch of frost can transform the dullest of gardens into a magical wintry landscape, most gardeners aim to create an outdoor space, with delights which are less transitory.

Choosing plants for winter interest usually means selecting attractive skeleton forms or handsome evergreen foliage, picking out plants with winter flowers or looking for colourful stems and interesting bark. All of these can make the winter garden a pleasure to view from your kitchen window.

When you get up close and personal though, it will be those heady winter scents which engage the senses and lift the spirit. With pollinators few and far between, the flowers work extra hard in the winter months to entice pollinating insects and winter flowers can have the most intoxicating fragrance of all garden plants. I’ve planted some of my favourites in a flower bed near my back door to make the most of their scent.

Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’

This neat, rounded, evergreen shrub has attractive dark green leaves, which are narrowly margined yellow. Clusters of sweetly-scented, white flowers, flushed purple-pink, are borne from mid-winter to early spring. It isn’t reliably hardy though and needs a bit of cosseting in the form of a layer of horticultural fleece on colder nights.

Daphne odora Aureomarginata winter garden design
Daphne odora Aureomarginata

Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’ is an upright daphne, with intensely fragrant winter flowers. It has an Award of Garden Merit (AGM) from the Royal Horticultural Society and is widely available at the moment.


Crumpled, spidery flowers provide a blaze of colour in mid- and late winter, on the bare twigs of this large, deciduous shrub.

Witch hazels flower in a range of ember colours. Hamamelis × intermedia ‘Jelena’ has coppery orange flowers, ‘Arnold Promise’ is yellow and ‘Diane’ is red.

Hamamelis x intermedia Arnold Promise winter planting plan
Hamamelis x intermedia Arnold Promise
Hamamelis x intermedia Jelena garden design
Hamamelis x intermedia Jelena
Hamamelis Intermedia Diane winter flower border design
Hamamelis Intermedia Diane
Sarcocca confusa landscape design
Sarcocca confusa

Sarcococca confusa

Sweet box is an evergreen, winter-flowering shrub, growing slowly to form a dense mound of glossy, dark green foliage. Tiny, vanilla-scented, white flowers are produced in winter, followed by glossy, black berries.

Winter border flowers Viburnum bodnantense Dawn
Viburnum bodnantense Dawn
Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’

An upright, deciduous shrub with distinctively veined foliage. As the leaves begin to fall, deep pink buds open to sweetly scented, pink-flushed, white flowers, continuing from late autumn to early spring.

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The Weatherstaff Team