Winter’s never smelt so good

Posted on 3rd February 2014

Two months have passed since my last blog and it’s not because I have been in hibernation.  In fact this Winter has been full of activity.  Preparations for Chelsea occupy my every waking hour… I even dream Chelsea, usually relieved to wake in the morning to find that I haven’t got one day left before the show opens with only half of the Brewin Dolphin garden planted.  The preparations are in fact going really well, but there is still lots to do and I know the next few months will fly by. I’ll blog soon to share some of the exciting things I’ve been up to and tease you with a few peeks at some of the components in the garden.  It’s getting exciting and I can feel the nervous tension starting to build.


Combined with Chelsea preparations I thought it a good idea to add a little more stress into the mix and in December we moved home, packing up our belongings, leap frogging over the M25 and landing in the lovely county of Surrey. We’ve found ourselves a project which will probably keep us occupied for some years to come. Our new cottage has huge potential and will make a lovely home for us, but it is her garden that hooked me and made me tingle from tip to toe on our initial viewings.  A spell was cast as I explored the overgrown garden with child like enthusiasm, imagining it to be my own little lost garden of Heligan. I can’t believe that we are now it’s new caretakers.


This is a garden with lots of history and it has been loved and nurtured by people with a passion for plants. As a result they have left us with some wonderful plant gems to rediscover.  This is not a blank canvas, or one that I want to start afresh.  This is a garden which has a character and charm already and it would be a crime to try to erase this and start again.  Instead we want to bring back to life all of the great bits of the garden and over time leave our own finger print.


We have begun to watch, identify and record what is around us as the garden begins to spring back into life.




Our first couple of weeks in the garden brought storms and drama.  We opened the curtains on the morning of Christmas eve to find a magnificent twisted Eucalyptus tree lying across the back lawn with a second younger specimen propped up by the roof of the shed in what will be our productive area.  I couldn’t help but feel guilty that this had happened on my watch and within only a week of having moved in.  What would the neighbours think!  Luckily we didn’t have any further major casualties.


It may have been a wet, soggy and grey January that followed, but one sense that hasn’t been dulled in our new garden is smell with an abundance of winter fragrance.  Here are some of the perfumed plants that have wafted us a sweet welcome to Ivy Cottage.




Hamamelis mollis with it’s spidery bright yellow flowers



Lonicera frangrantissima




A nice mature clump of Sweet box by the front door




Quite a little firecracker, Hamamelis × intermedia ‘Jelena’




I’d never appreciated the delicate scent of Mahonia before




Chimonanthus praecox with orchid like little flowers on it’s woody stems.



Viburnum x bodnantense

Snowdrops and Hellebores signal that spring isn’t far away…









6 thoughts on “Winter’s never smelt so good

  1. Wendy Shillam

    Thanks for thinking of Viburnum. The flowers are so delicate, just right for this time of year.
    This is a fantastic project. Perhaps the fallen trees are an omen of where you can start to make your mark. The garden is giving you some new space?

  2. Liz Owen

    Beautiful addition to the blog. I wondered when we were going to start seeing your new garden. Am on brink of buying greenhouse. Will I find time to spend in it???

  3. April Spencer

    How lovely to have so many fragrant, welcoming plants as soon as you move in. John and I were sampling something similar at Wisley last week; and you’ve seen some of my little spring venturers on facebook. xx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

+ four = 10

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>