The Scent of February - from Ken Rawson
5th February 2009
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February - the last month of winter and the shortest one. I don t necessarily like it but while we are in the middle of it, there is some joy to be had as a gardener. Scent is something that is heightened in winter, more positive in its attack and in getting your attention.

Snowdrops are the main theme this month. If you have managed to plant a colony on a bank or raised bed where they are a couple of feet nearer your nose, you would have discovered the honey scent already. I pick generous bunches for my office desk and the sight and smell almost (only almost!) makes me want February to stay a while longer.

The best scent for me at the moment, however, is being given up by the SARCOCOCCAS. One day nothing, the next, the whole vicinity is hung with the sweet and spicy scent. No warning, just stopped in my tracks and every year the same. There are several sorts of varying attributes but whichever you buy plant it where you pass by. So many are planted where the owners never venture in winter and there they are, performing or perfuming with no audience. Go to them now (with some scissors cut for the house they scent a room).

VIBURNUMS, especially V. X BODNANTENSE, is easier to notice, its flowers and buds giving a more visual warning that something good is on the way. A bush of this takes some beating with nose-pinching cold weather making the scent more apparent. Enjoy this scent on the air when it is sweet with a touch of spice. Close to, it has a slightly unpleasant back-note so don t go sticking your nose right into it thinking you are going to get bigger and better thrills!

Another favourite of mine is CORONILLA GLAUCA.


Coronilla Trained on a Wall

This is of the Pea family and it shows this in the flower. Yellow and with sweet perfume (slightly lemon in the CITRINA variety), it flowers all winter. I grow one on a sheltered wall and one in an open border and I doubt there is any difference in quantity of flowers but the wall does amplify the scent of the pampered specimen. This is good as it is near my front door. The other one has to be visited, usually with coffee in hand.

There are various varieties of the above shrubs but you will not go wrong whichever you use to get you through February.

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