Friday, January 22, 2010

winter's honeysuckle

Winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima) is an old fashioned pass-along plant that is invaluable for large Southern shrub borders. The Scottish plant explorer Robert Fortune brought it to the UK after a visit to China in 1845. I have also heard it called "sweet breath of spring."

It is rangy and suckery and doesn't have a spectacular flower (appearance-wise). But it is blooming right now. I can see a large grouping as I write this from my lunch break in Duke's Perkins Library. The strength of the blooms' fragrance will grow more powerful throughout the weeks ahead. I love the light green leaves that stay semi-evergreen throughout the winter. It is an excellent choice for an out of the way spot in a yard or garden---actually, since it smells so nice in the doldrums of late winter, you may want to plant it closer to a path. It can always be pruned hard after if finishes blooming. Left unchecked it can grow 8-12 tall.

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