The name translates from the Greek as precocious (or early) winter flower, and it is without doubt the most striking plant in our garden this month. Striking, not only because it is so heavily laden with flower this year (and I am wondering how this happened after such a mediocre summer), but also because its fragrance is pure heaven.
Planted in 1990, it was one of the best choices we made, even though initially I began to doubt this, as several winters passed before the unusual waxy flowers started to appear, along with their intoxicating scent.
For the rest of the year you wouldn’t give it a second glance, so a little bit of thought is needed to extend the season of interest.
We planted a late flowering form of clematis cirrhosa var. balearica which has greeny creamy bells and no freckles; it is just starting into bud as I write and will take over from the wintersweet towards the end of the winter, draping itself over the crown like a sort of floral parasol.
This is followed, in early summer, by clematis ‘Gillian Blades’ which has large, single, snowy white flowers and meanders gracefully through the lower twigs of the chimonanthus.
I could get carried away with ideas for underplanting but the thought of snowdrops has reminded me that I need to ice the Christmas cake, so in the meantime … have a happy one!