Believe it or not, there are several plants that can provide fragrance to the scented theme garden — even during the cold, usually dormant, winter months.
Many beginning gardeners tend to overlook the winter months as times to add interest to the garden, because so many of the most common plants are dormant. There are, however, a selection of winter interest plants to help gardeners extend their scent gardens to year round delights!
Fragrant Winter Flowering Ornamental Shrub
A favorite winter-blooming shrub, the Winter Daphne (Daphne ordora) is stunning with late winter to early spring blooms. The small, white flowers are highly fragrant and make a perfect start to a scent garden’s show each year. The leaves are evergreen, creating a perfect backdrop for the sweet scented flowers. Gardeners should provide daphne with part shade in the summer, and medium watering for the best blooms. The daphne shrub can grow relatively large, reaching about 6 feet tall and wide.
Trees with Fragrant Winter Flowers
No winter landscape is complete without the unusual witchhazel tree, which blooms in late winter on bare branches. The deciduous tree is ornamental, with bright yellow, red or orange flowers that appear in January or February well ahead of the foliage. Witchhazel flowers are fragrant, though not as sweet in scent as the flowers of the winter daphne. Witchhazel prefers full sun to part shade and can range in size from 6-20 feet.
While witchhazel trees make a great, small-tree addition to the scent garden, many gardeners choose to enjoy the fragrance indoors as well by cutting branches when the flower buds appear. By bringing a witchhazel branch indoors, and setting it into a vase of water, the gardener forces the blooms to appear sooner, allowing the fragrance to fill the house.
Indoor Fragrant Bulbs for Winter Scent Gardens
What scent garden is complete without some paperwhites, or narcissus? Related to daffodils, these fragrant bulbs are a common gift for gardeners because of their ease to grow and heady fragrance. While paperwhites are not the only bulbs that can be forced to bloom indoors, they are one of the most popular.
Most paperwhites are, as one might imagine, white in color, but fragrant narcissus bulbs are also available in all shades of yellow, and rarely pink as well. Hardy in zones 8-10, these bulbs are usually grown indoors during the cold winter months and then treated as annuals. Gardeners in mild climates, however, may try to plant them outdoors while they are dormant, though some will not survive. Narcissus tolerates part shade well, making them an easy bulb to grow indoors.
Even in the cold of winter, the garden can provide beauty to more than just the eyes. By selecting plants that bloom with a sweet fragrance during the winter months, gardeners will extend the season of interest in the landscape. And by bringing some of that scent garden interest into the home, gardeners will increase their gardening enjoyment even more!