Start making SCENTS; Dry January doesn't apply to our gardens, and even less to our nostrils. So give your olfactory system a treat with gorgeous perfumes at the gate.
It's true many plants in winter lack colour and impact - but it's easy to create a garden full of scent to lift the January blues.
Surprisingly, some species that lack large, showy flowers make up for it with a heady perfume.
As you may not spend as much time outdoors at this time of year, it's good to grow them near doors, gates and pathways so you catch an uplifting waft as you come and go.
WITCH HAZEL (HAMAMELIS) HAMAMELIS is a striking shrub that has a rich and spicy scent.
The plant bears curious, beautiful flowers - ranging from yellow through to red - along its bare branches.
Its thin, spindly petals create a unique look that will be a real statement in your garden. Witch hazel needs acidic soil but does grow happily in containers if your garden is alkaline.
Some varieties have little scent but Hamamelis x intermedia "Aphrodite" and Hamamelis x intermedia "Aurora" both have a powerful fragrance.
They will tolerate partial shade but do best in a sunny spot that is not too exposed. Witch hazel is very frost-hardy but, in the first few years, can be damaged by really hard frosts - so use a horticultural fleece if temperatures really drop.
DAPHNE is an evergreen shrub with wonderfully scented, four-petalled flowers that will fill your garden with a sweet citrus fragrance.
Try Daphne bholua for deep pinky flowers with white centres, or Daphne odora for red-purple flowers and pale centres with yellow-edged leaves.
Both like sheltered positions and partial shade, but are okay in full sun if roots are kept shaded. They don't like drought or waterlogging, so keep that in mind when choosing a spot.
They are also deep-rooting plants, so will do less well in a container.
SARCOCOCCA CONFUSA THIS beauty is also known as "sweet box". A bushy evergreen shrub that has dark, leathery leaves, it bears delicate, spindly flowers in creamywhite with a super-sweet scent - followed by glossy black berries.
Perfect for a shady border, it copes well with urban pollution and dry shade. Plant near your path for a rich vanilla scent.
VIBURNUM 'DAWN' VIBURNUM x bodnantense "Dawn" is a deciduous shrub with lovely dark green, toothy-edged leaves - but it's the tight clusters of sweet flowers in beautiful shades of pink that steal the show throughout winter, and they have the most delicious scent too.
The blooms are followed by blue-black berries in spring, and in autumn the foliage turns to a gorgeous blanket of orange and yellow tones.
These very tolerant plants handle most soil types and positions, as long as they get at least partial sun. They can reach up to 2.5m tall - but will take a decade or two to get there.
WINTERSWEET CHIMONANTHUS praecox, or wintersweet, is a woody shrub that can be evergreen or deciduous.
The gorgeous yellow blooms are bowl-shaped and hang down from the branches like little bells, brightening up the dreariest winter days.
When the flowers fade they're replaced by long seed capsules or catkins.
This one is medium-sized, has dense growth, and suits most positions. It needs well-draining soil and is fully hardy, but the foliage may need shelter from cold winds in exposed areas.
Iris MINIATURE iris are delicate-looking and ideal for containers. But it's their gentle scent that makes them so great.
Try Iris reticulata or unguicularis for elegant purple and blue flowers in window boxes.
These beauties are a warming site on a cold January day, springing up in bunches of bright blooms with stunning white and yellow falls.
They are an evergreen perennial that can reach up to 30cm in height. They like well-drained or sharply drained neutral or slightly alkaline soil.
Their ideal home is a cosy spot at the base of a sunny wall.
OREGON GRAPE MAHONIA X MEDIA, sometimes known as Oregon grape, is an evergreen shrub with spiky, leathery leaves.
In winter it produces long, draping stems covered in bursts of pale yellow globular flowers that have a delicate scent reminiscent of lily of the valley.
In early spring the flowers give way to blue-black berries.
This wonderfully architectural shrub will make a great focal point for a shady corner of your garden.
They are tough plants that will thrive in almost any soil conditions, and can eventually reach up to 4m tall.
Winter -flowering honeysuckleWINTER-FLOWERING honeysuckle is ideal for growing by the back door. Two great varieties are Lonicera fragrantissima and Lonicera x purpusii.
Both are bushy deciduous shrubs that can grow up to 2m, and produce delicate creamy-white flowers on bare branches with a wonderful perfume.
With simple, ovate leaves, its pairs of very fragrant, cream flowers arrive in winter and early spring, sometimes followed by dull red berries.
They like full sun or partial shade, most soils, and can happily handle exposed positions.
Hamamelis or witch hazel flower in full bloom
Winter flowering honeysuckle, left, Mahonia, above, and, right, Daphne Bholua
Mahonia aquifolium, the Oregon grape, starting to bloom
Viburnum bodnantense coming into flower
Sweetly scented miniature iris
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|Publication:||Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)|
|Date:||Jan 27, 2018|
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