Flowering plants in January are something. The flowers are often delicate, secretive, small. Yet the fragrance generates the desire to linger around at the end of January for a good while.
January flowers are supposedly more densely fragrant in order to attract the relatively few insects and pollinators around. And perhaps so for us humans in order to enchant the very heart of winter with their impressiveness, the otherwise perceived ‘dead’ centre of the plant year. Their fragrance is very different to summer flowers – it’s sweeter, whiter somehow, citrus, giddying – and creates invisible clouds of scent near some of the shrubs. At this time of year, I walk around a corner, past someone’s garden, or some municipal planting, and stop still, at the scent hovering on a still cold afternoon.
Perhaps a new website: The Registry Of January Scent – a site that locates January flowers and shrubs around the country to enable people to travel around the cities, suburbs and land and fill themselves with heady fragrances. My first entries: the dense and transporting Sweet Box hedges between the old Churchyard and the Garden Tiltyard at Dartington in Devon. The magnificent ancient Witch Hazel twins (Hamamelis Mollis) at Broomfield gate in the Isabella Plantation, Richmond Park. The Mimosa tree in the Inner Temple Gardens running beside Victoria Embankment, London. The Mahonia along The Duck Walk in St Margarets, Twickenham ….
Here they are then, the January flowers.
Sweet Box. Sarcococca confusa.
Citrina. Coronilla valentina.
Oh Mimosa, Mimosa.
Sometimes you type the name of the flower into Google Images and enjoy the wondrous stream of images associated with the name of the flowers – drinks, dresses, colours, perfumes …..
Mahonia ‘winter sun’
Black Hellebore (not so scented but here for the colour)
“There is a privacy about it which no other season gives you ….. In spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself.”
– Ruth Stout
Snowdrop. Gallanthus. (nose has to go very close up)
“Nature has undoubtedly mastered the art of winter gardening and even the most experienced gardener can learn from the unrestrained beauty around them.”
– Vincent A. Simeone
Witch Hazel. Hamamelis ‘Pallida’.
Here for their sculptural genius as much as for scent….
it’s so nice
on the sliding ice
to sip hot chicken soup with rice.
– Maurice Sendak, In January