View all news

The perfume of winter

11 January 2013

The garden in winter is full of the scent of small flowers.

In summer flower is abundant, pollinators are spoilt for choice and are attracted by bright colours. In January with fewer pollinators flowers tend to be scented and the perfume travels on the cool winter breeze as you find when strolling through the Botanic Garden.
Chimonanthus praecox

The highly fragrant Chimonanthus praecox


Chimonanthus praecox or wintersweet is growing in the meadow area of the garden. A Chinese native this plant is thought to have anti fungal properties and is used in traditional Chinese herbal medicine as a treatment for measles. It flowers during the Chinese new year and the flowers are used for hair decoration during the festivities.

Lonicera fragrantissima

Lonicera fragrantissima produces a strong lemony scent.

The winter flowering honeysuckle ( Lonicera fragrantissima) has a citrus perfume that drifts on the wind. This plant was introduced to the UK by Scottish botanist Robert Fortune while plant hunting in Eastern China in 1845. Another common name for this plant is ‘sweet breath of spring’.

Daphne bholua

The evergreen Daphne bholua grows well in a woodland setting.

Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’ is grown for the sweet aroma of the flowers. In Nepal it grows at 8,000 to 10,000 feet in the mountain valleys and the bark is used for making traditional lokta paper. Lokta paper is durable with a resistance to humidity, insects and mildew which makes it the preferred choice for the recording official government records and sacred religious texts.

Viburnum bodnantense

Viburnum x bodnantense flowers from mid October until March.

Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ is a highly scented shrub that flowers throughout winter and is therefore a favourite with many gardeners. Viburnum farreri and Viburnum grandiflorum were crossed by Charles Lamont the Assistant Curator at Edinburgh Botanic Garden in 1933, but he decided not to pursue the resulting hybrid. Bodnant Garden in north Wales tried again and named the hybrid x bodnantense. It is now one of the most popular winter garden plants in the country.

Don’t forget there are two Curators tours of the Botanic Garden coming up on 3rd February and 3rd March.

We look forward to seeing you in the garden.