Six on Saturday: waiting in the wings (3 November 2018)

Well, we held off turning on the heating until the 31 October. I’m sure we made it into November last year. Yet the past week has been decidedly nippy and we’ve had at least four frosty mornings. Still, I love frosty mornings. They’re invigorating and feel as though they’re doing the garden some good, helping to keep some of the garden nasties in check.

1. Unfortunately, the frosts signalled an end to some of the colourful summer stars of the garden. The dahlias and zinnias have finally thrown in the towel.

Though just behind the zinnias you can just make out a solitary sweet pea that’s still going.

2. There are some plants in the garden that haven’t taken the slightest bit of notice of these slightly sub-zero temperatures. The antirrhinums, roses, verbena, Erigeron karvinskianus and this scabious are still going strong. There’s even a Californian poppy or two flowering out the front. They’re made of tougher stuff, but eventually their flowers will cease.

However, while most plants are preparing to hunker down for the winter or will soon be joining the great big compost heap in the sky, there are some that are preparing to burst into flower, adding a bit of cheer and even some delicious scent during the dark, winter months ahead.

3. I hadn’t noticed the berries on the Dwarf Sweet Box until the other day. They’re a lovely mixture of crimson and black that look rather nice next to the glossy evergreen foliage.


But when you peer even closer you can make out the flower buds that will open in a few weeks or so and release their strong sweet scent.

4. The Coronilla valentina subsp glauca (catchy name) seemed to be a victim of its own success. Despite being pruned a little each year, by spring it had become rather large and was unable to support its own weight. I tried to prop it up with a stake and some metal plant supports but it was just too top-heavy. It had flowered nonstop throughout the winter and was still flowering when I made the decision to chop it back to the ground in April.

I wasn’t sure it would recover as the gardening books suggest it doesn’t respond well to hard pruning. But it seems to have done it the world of good. And look closely…

… you’ll see it’s about to flower again. It grows by the front door where its scent greets you when you set off for work in the morning and return home in the evening. From what I understand they’re not very long-lived. But when I chopped it back I discovered a few seedlings so I’m hoping we’ll have at least one replacement when this one finally gives up.

5. So far the Lonicera fragrantissima (or winter honeysuckle) is doing okay after the Great Shrub Move of October 2018 and the first of its flowers have just opened. Like the Coronilla, this scented shrub will go on flowering throughout the winter and into spring, providing bees with an early source of nectar.

6. And finally… though it seems a long way off, some plants are already offering a glimpse of what they’ll have to offer next spring. The Vibernum carlesii ‘Compactum’, another wonderfully scented shrub, has started to form small flower buds.

And knowing that they’ll eventually become pink-tinged buds and snow white flowers come late April/Early May will be a rather cheering thought during those damp, dark and chilly winter months.

And they were my Six on Saturday. For more Sixes on Saturday, from all around the world, take a look at the site of the chap who started it all over at


20 thoughts on “Six on Saturday: waiting in the wings (3 November 2018)

    1. There are. Though once I’ve chopped back the jasmine and planted the garlic that’ll be pretty much it I think gardening wise for a while. I have a gutter to put up on the blue shed this weekend and a water butt to attach to it. It’s a tight squeeze down the side of the shed with pots and bags of compost to negotiate I might come a cropper.

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    1. It’s certainly a bonus. My wife and I liked the idea of a scented garden. We have another Coronilla with a more grey-green leaf and paler yellow flower in the back garden. It’s not done as well as this one though which thrives in the south facing position.


  1. The new season brings reminders of the plants I had on my list last year – and they are still there! In this case it is the sweet box. The berries are lovely. So much still to done in my new garden, I must just be patient!


    1. It was one of the things we set out to do when we started planning the garden. We’re trying to make sure there’s always a bit of scent to be had throughout the year, even if it means burying your nose in a flower or running your fingers through some foliage to discover it.


  2. I love a scented garden too and need to buy more fragrant plants especially for winter. I do have a winter honeysuckle but I cut it down a lot recently as it was sprawling all over the place so I am not expecting too many flowers. It is rather an ugly shrub most of the year so not one of my favourites.

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    1. The winter honeysuckle can look a little messy. This one has developed quite a nice shape at the moment but I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep it that way (though moving it around the garden every so often appears to have helped limit its growth a bit).

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  3. Coronilla and sweet box are both plants I haven’t heard of before, so again I’ve learnt something new today! The coronilla has very interesting flowers, and the box is beautifully glossy. I have no sense of smell, which is a bit sad for a gardener, so I never comment on the perfume of flowers on my blog, much as I’d like to. Your garden must be gloriously scented.

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    1. The jasmine, Korean lilac, coronilla and sweet box are probably the waftiest scented plants in the garden. Some of the others require you to get quite close to them or to bury your nose in the flowers to fully appreciate their scent. Having no sense of smell would have been welcomed today when I emptied a bowl behind the shed that had filled with water and leaves to form a rotting swamp like stench. Not pleasant. In reality foliage, flower and form is just as important as scent. If a plant was scented but wasn’t pleasing to look at I don’t think we’d bother with it.


    1. SoS has made me pay more attention to what’s going on in the garden – I seem to notice more and think ‘SoS photo opportunity’. Scabiosa have proved to be a great addition to the garden. Dead easy to grow too which is always a good thing.


  4. I’m another scent lover, along w/several of the others commenting. Really like your autumn/winter blooming shrubs to keep things interesting smell-wise during the great bleak. That coronilla is very tempting, & it comes in varying foliages? All the better.

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    1. We have two varieties. One has yellow flowers and green leaves, the other paler yellow and greeny-grey leaves (the latter of which is sometimes sold as a climber. Both have have a strong scent and both are evergreen.


  5. Is the Viburnum deciduous? Some are some aren’t and others cannot make their mind up!
    Have you considered at late flowering Clematis climbing up the Lonicera? Something like Clematis vitichella or texensis cultivars extend the season and can be chopped down every spring…

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    1. It’s deciduous though it never seems to be in a hurry to lose its leaves – you’re right, it’s almost as though it can’t make up its mind. It still looks very green at the moment with no sign of dropping any leaves. I like the idea of a late flowering clematis. Thanks for the suggestions.


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