Late Winter Blooms and Fragrance

Late winter is always a tough period for me. Patrolling my property on warm sunny days in late winter, I am ready to see something blooming and if at all possible – fragrant. This seems a difficult task in late February and early March, but there are three candidates that came through with flying colors.

Witch Hazel

Witch Hazel (Hamamelis intermedia) has found a home on my property and sports two colors, yellow and orange. This is a large grafted shrub and many times the graft root stock can take over.  I ended up with two colors to enjoy and smell.

Cut a bunch of witch hazel and scent the house with it
Cut a bunch of witch hazel and scent the house with it

A large deciduous shrub with colorful, fragrant flowers during the winter, witch hazel is virtually maintenance-free and resistant to most pests and diseases. Needing a winter chill to flower at its best, these wouldn’t be suitable for hotter parts of the U.S., except for Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’, a more heat tolerant variety. Once established, they are virtually maintenance-free and resistant to most pests and diseases.

Hamamelis 'Diane'
Hamamelis ‘Diane’
The curious flowers are spider-like
The curious flowers are spider-like

Edgeworthia or Paper Bush

Edgeworthia chrysantha, also known as the Oriental Paperbush,  provides superb winter interest and fragrance.  This well-branched shrub begins blooming in December, when it’s nothing but bare branches in the garden and continues through winter. Tiny individual yellow florets form 1 1/2″ clusters of flowers.  Like daphnes, you can smell Edgeworthia long before you can see it, with the scent wafting through the air.

At the Philadelphia Flower Show, Edgeworthia is in full bloom
At the Philadelphia Flower Show, Edgeworthia is in full bloom

Thriving in partial shade, Edgeworthia appreciates well-enriched, moist soil and in summer sports rhododendron like foliage with silvery undertones. Having a beautiful shape and form, the foliage turns rich shades of yellow in the fall.

The foliage resembles Rhododendrons
The foliage resembles Rhododendron

This shrub grows in USDA zones 7 to 9, and in protected areas of Zone 6.  It eventually reaches 7 feet high and wide and makes a nice stand-alone specimen or back-of-the-border choice.  Plant these shrubs where you can enjoy the fragrance as you enter the front or back door or close to a pathway.

Edgeworthia
Edgeworthia
On a warm day the tubular flowers open up to perfume the air
On a warm day the tubular flowers open up to perfume the air
An Edgeworthia in early winter at Biltmore Estate in North Carolina
An Edgeworthia in early winter at Biltmore Estate in North Carolina

Hellebores or Lenten Roses

Hellebores will bloom starting in January in some places and if we have a warm day, the bees will flock to them. Easy to grow in dry shade, my husband tells me I have a ‘hellebore problem’.  That just means I have a lot of them! There are always new colors and varieties that I have to try and they bloom for such a long period (3-4 months) that I always am adding to my collection.

Hellebore blooming with mini Iris
Hellebore blooming with mini Iris
Hellebore flowers floating in bowl

For more information on this great deer resistant plant, go to Hellebores-Every Gardener Should Have Some.

 

One of my favorites
One of my favorites

 

 

9 Replies to “Late Winter Blooms and Fragrance”

  1. Good morning- I love hellebores but have never had any luck. I believe this to be because I live at the beach and all my plants get the salt air on them on a daily basis. Should I give up on them or keep trying? Jenny

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