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