Happy cold New Year! It has been really cold for the last few days so I have been trying to stay in any sunny spot I can find. So far I am sticking to my New Year’s resolutions – no one’s pulled me yet so a check for 6 resolutions kept. To keep another resolution, I’ve headed to the Sensory Garden. Being next to the education building, it keeps the wind off my back and the morning sun on my face, which is important when it’s this cold outside. I’ve also met a new shrub this year (checkmark for another resolution) – the Fragrant Wintersweet.
Actually, I’ve known several wintersweets for some time – there are several great ones on Baker Overlook and in the Winter and Fragrance Gardens. This one in the Sensory Garden is a cultivar that is just a little different – it is Chimonanthus praecox var. concolor. All the wintersweets I know, including this one, are not particularly showy plants in the summer time. They are big broad shrubs that have dark green leaves that are rough like sandpaper. They like to spread out and need lots of room – 8 to 12 feet wide. The plain summer shrub really shines in the winter, however. This one is blooming right now so you can see how it is different from the regular wintersweet – it has almost pure yellow flowers compared to a pale, almost translucent yellow on the species. I think its yellow is not quite as bright as me, but it’s pretty nice. The flowers hug the branches, so it is not a real attention getter. I bet most people walk right past and don’t even notice. That’s why I’m here – if they don’t pay attention to an 8 foot tall shrub, they won’t really notice me.
Where this plant really makes it mark is its fragrance. It has a beautiful sweet smell that can carry a little ways. I notice that even though this shrub is at the back of the border, the smell still gets out to people walking past. You notice a small hesitation in their stride as they pick up the scent coming into the building. Eyes dart around, trying to find the source of the smell but seldom find it. Even if they do look over this way, they seem to look right past us and never recognize the plant. Sitting here is fun – like being in on a big secret. It makes me giggle a little when it happens. By the way, that is a check mark next to my 12th resolution – have fun everyday at NBG.
Well, I’m going to have to head to more gardens and find more plants to meet to keep those resolutions. I want to find some place warm. Maybe I can sneak into the Tropical Display House . . .