Flush Of Rich Perfume
Landscape|January - February 2018

The pink buds and flowers of Viburnum x bodnantense bring a sweet fragrance to frosty borders

Geoff Stebbings

ON A FROSTY, sunlit morning in winter, there is a glow in the garden border. Neat clusters of small, trumpet-shaped pink flowers exude a heady, sweet perfume into the still air. This is Viburnum x bodnantense, a tall shrub whose bare, woody stems are covered with sweetly scented blooms. It brings a welcome burst of rich colour to the garden in the coldest months of the year.

This lovely shrub may have flowers early to late winter, depending on the temperatures. In a mild winter, flushes of blooms may start in November. If the winter is cold, however, the buds do not develop, and there will be little colour until a mild spell. If the season is particularly cold, all the buds wait until spring to open, giving a contracted but spectacular display.

Sometimes, the last buds open with the new foliage in early spring. In this case, the flower clusters are not as compact as usual, and the flowers open on longer stems.

Once open, a severe frost will damage and brown the blooms. The buds are tougher, however, and will wait, ready to open once the weather improves. These buds are usually deep pink and open to paler flowers, although this depends on the cultivar.

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