Chimonanthus praecox (wintersweet)
Plant of the month: January
Chimonanthus praecox (wintersweet) comes to life in the dead of winter. Its bare woody stems are dripping with frost-defying, gloriously fragrant, pendent yellow flowers that are tinged with purple in the centre. These cup-shaped flowers are produced on the bare branches of older bushes and it takes a young plant a few years to settle down to flowering. The scent produced is neither cloying nor overpowering, but lemon-like and spicy.
Wintersweet is highly-prized by floral arrangers and a branch or two of this scented shrub does wonders in a living room vase! Chimonanthus praecox makes a lovely specimen plant for a mixed or winter border, close to a house entrance or path where its scent can be appreciated. Ideally plant in moist, free-draining soil in full sun in a sheltered position.