Body, soul and gardening - winter scent to lift your mood

Scent has a powerful effect on our mood and this is particularly welcome as we move into the colder months.  Winter flowers tend to have a particularly powerful perfume as they have to work harder to attract the few pollinating insects around at this time of year.  To get the maximum benefit, place scented plants by the house, near a door, along garden paths or in the front garden so you can enjoy the relaxing perfume as you pass.  Here are our favourite plants with uplifting winter fragrance.

There’s a fabulous array of shrubs with fragrance at this time of year.  Winter flowering daphnes such as Daphne odora with its delicate clusters of pale pink flowers will give you a lift on a cold day.  And Edgeworthia, closely related to daphnes, has clusters of scented yellow flowers on bare stems in winter, for some serious wow factor!  Sweet box Sarcococca confusa is a must, with its mass of pungent honey-sweet creamy flowers throughout winter.  Winter-scented viburnum such as V. bodnantense and closely-related Viburnum farreri both have clusters of sweet-smelling flowers on bare stems.  And of course if you want a winter show stopper, Hamamelis x intermedia comes into its own now with its delicate scented thread-like yellow or orange petals. 

Space out your strongly smelling shrubs so that they don’t overpower each other and add layers elsewhere with bulbs such as bright purple blue Iris unguicularis ‘Mary Barnard’ which has a delicate fragrance.  Finally, winter flowering honey suckle such as Lonicera purpusii ‘Winter Beauty’ has sweetly perfumed creamy-white flowers to keep the blues away.