During the dull days of winter seek out some surprising but subtle contributors which add to the enjoyment of landscape. Plants which add another dimension, lifting the spirits through gloomy months with a waft of ephemeral scent on still, damp air.
An unassuming and overlooked shrub most of the year Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ is rather stiff and unremarkable. Its young leaves come through bronze tinted and, with age, the plant gains more spreading and arching growth. But after leaf fall the shrub comes into its own, flowering from late autumn through winter. When frost knocks back the pale pink blossom new flowers come through quickly dispersing their sweet scent on calm air. The tiny trumpet shaped flowers are borne in clusters on the bare stems which give a Japanese quality to the form. Picked stems are spare, with long lasting flowers which rapidly scent a room. Massed plantings of the shrub should be fronted by other more shapely species, but the impact of the scent caught whilst walking through the landscape should not be underestimated.
As landscape architects we have a strong predilection for the visual environment but scent conjures memories like no other sense jerking one back to a forgotten moment; the coconut whiff of gorse on a summer’s cliff top walk; or the effect of Cytisus battandieri trained around a doorway its pineapple scented flowers and softly furred leaves make a deliciously sensuous entrance.