Coming back after the Christmas break has proven that this garden still packs a punch even in the dead of winter. Chimonanthus praecox (Wintersweet) has just started flowering. Not only does this deciduous shrub offer its beautiful, yellow star shaped flowers on naked stems, but the sweet scent permeates the air making it almost impossible to not stick your nose in. This valued winter plant is familiar in British gardens but has been cultivated in China for over 1000 years, where the essential oils are used for both medicinal and culinary purposes.
Flowers appear from between November and March, depending on location. It can take several years for a shrub to flower, so don’t prune too early as this may stall maturity.
It’s one of the best winter flowering shrubs and should be considered for any size garden as the scent is heavenly. The budding branches could be cut and brought inside to flower on a cold winters day.