I begin with a quote from Xenia Field’s book on gardening that says it all – “Viburnum fragrans presents pink apple blossom flowers from November to March. A twig on the mantelpiece will fill the room with sweet scent”. – the book was first published in 1973 by Octopus Books, but it is still just as relevant today. After my house was modernised some years ago, I no longer have a mantelpiece but the same scent has filled my dining room for the past week from the vase on the table.
Flower of the week from YOUR garden to YOUR table: 15th Jan. 2017.
Botanical Name: Viburnum.
This week I purposely did not fill in the full botanical name in the heading to the article because there are many similar ones that you can choose from. The idea is to have flowers at this otherwise cold and flowerless time of the year, so it is important to avoid the many other species of Viburnum that flower during spring and summer. The varieties that flower are deciduous so all we have to look at is twigs and flowers, bare and beautiful.
Here is a list of the varieties to look out for;
Viburnum Farreri, has a RHS Award of Garden Merit, and will flower in late Autumn, again in early spring and during mild spells through the winter.
Viburnum Foetens which is most probably the one that is pictured above, bears its flowers during the depth of winter and continues flowering into the spring.
Both of the above bear tubular flowers in small clusters along there stems they are usually pink or white. Although the scent is strong the flowers clusters are small. For larger flower clusters go for Viburnum x bodnantense, this variety is a cross between Viburnum farreri and Viburnum Grandiflorum (as the x in its name implies ), it has much larger clusters of flowers and some varieties have a strong pink colour.
Although the ultimate height of the bush is around 3m, it will flower long before this height and it can be annually pruned to keep it as a lower bush. During spring the glossy linear leaves emerge, you can mistake them for an evergreen leaf but as autumn approaches you will be proven otherwise. The first two species listed will bear small spherical blue berries in the Autumn, but don’t expect any fruit on the hybrid bodnantnense.
The most common winter flowering Viburnum available is Viburnum x bodnantense, Dawn , and as it holds a RHS Award of Garden Merit it is one of the best. The pink flowers fade to white with age and are born in large clusters. Thompson and Morgan sell a single 9cm pot @ £9.99 and 3 for £19.99. (A saving of £9.98). J. Parkers sell a single 9cm pot @ £6.99 and 2 for £11.99. (A saving of only £1.99, but which is better value for your money?!)