January flowers

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.

Sweet Box Flower

Citrina. Coronilla valentina.

Coronilla Citrina  Coronilla close up

Daphne odora

Daphne Odora

Oh Mimosa, Mimosa.

Mimosa CU

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’

 Mahonia flowers

Black Hellebore (not so scented but here for the colour)

Black Hellebore

Centre of the black hellebore flower

“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  

Vibernum tinus.

Vibernum tinus flower

Witch Hazel. Hamamelis ‘Pallida’.

Here for their sculptural genius as much as for scent….

The unfurling flowers of Hamamelis Pallida      witch hazel flower Witch hazel red centre to the yellow flower

“In January
it’s so nice
while slipping
on the sliding ice
to sip hot chicken soup with rice.
Sipping once
Sipping twice.”
–  Maurice Sendak, In January

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