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Fragrant Spring - flowering Shrubs


First let's agree when the gardening spring starts and stops. I will go with March 1st - St David’s Day, as I am Welsh and also because that is when the meteorological calendar starts - with a finishing date of May 31st. We generally like to divide the seasons into 3 monthly periods. It may well feel like spring for the odd day in February, but as far as gardening seasons are concerned, most of us will have learned that nature has a sense of humour.

Most of the spring flowering scented shrubs mentioned in this section will fall outside the accepted mainstream spring shrubs, for generally they have little or no scent.

So, the normal selection of Forsythia and Ribes etc. - although great spring flowering shrubs - do not have enough - if any - fragrance to be included in this list.

Some spring flowering fragrant shrubs which worthy of inclusion have been left out for they are better described as winter scented – another article – though many tend to hang about into early spring.

  • Daphne bholua Jacqueline PostilDaphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’ is not the easiest for shrubs to take close-up photos of. Reason being that everyone wants a close-up sniff! But, one of the easiest of the Daphnes to grow, and deep purplish pink flowers simply exude fragrance at any time of the day. A superb choice for a single spring flowering scented shrub
    This one is evergreen.

  • Viburnum DawnViburnum x bodnantense Dawn - Other Viburnums get mistakenly called this, but if you get the correct one, has dark pink flowers eventually fading to white.
    Fragrant from the time the buds open until faded. Spring flowering here as that is when the buds are fully openr, but will have tight clusters as in the image for late winter also.
    Best scent in mornings or evenings.
    Deciduous

  • Viburnum x burkwoodii white flowersViburnum x burkwoodii  is reliably scented through spring with its fragrant clusters of white tubular flowers. Evergreen.
    Somewhat straggly and open shrub with evergreen glossy foliage - sometimes semi-evergreen.
    Always reliable BUT can get hit by late spring frosts - rarely

  • Sarcococca humilisSarcococca humilis is the best Sarcococca for me with good glossy evergreen foliage on an upright medium shrub, having small tubular pink white flowers that pack an amazing punch as far as fragrance is concerned. Late winter going into early spring - just about makes it for inclusion in spring-flowering shrubs.
    Sarcococca confusa is also a good contender with white flowers borne in profusion

  • Azalea mollisAzalea mollis – Knap Hill Hybrids in particular – have amazing scent not normally found in other ‘rhododendrons’  - for technically they are rhododendrons. Deciduous with good autumn colour for the foliage, but it is the gorgeous scent that qualifies them for listing here. Late spring with wide range of flower colours,  I always find the yellows are the stronger scented of the Azalea mollis.

  • Corylopsis glabrescensCorylopsis glabrescens is perhaps the best of the Corylopsis for scent – rather than fragrance.
    Has a wonderful display of pendulous pale yellow flower clusters in early spring. It is best grown as a large shrub in a woodland garden – sheltered from frosts - where it will make a spectacular fragrant spring flowering shrub..
     Deciduous.

  • Clematis armandiiClematis armandii is our climbing shrub which has pure white scented flowers in early spring – rather than winter.
    Evergreen dark green palmate leaves makes it doubly attractive.
    Clematis armandii the evergreen Clematis will grow in any situation - part sun or full shade

  • White lilac - Mmm LemoineSyringa - Lilac - has heady scent in mid spring with masses of showy, fragrant, tubular flower clusters– albeit for a short time. For the remainder of the year, rather bland, but as we are talking fragrance or scent, well worth a mention for this time of year. Lilacs are large deciduous shrubs, with a few dwarf types that are not as scented. The pure white Syringa vulgaris ‘Mme Lemoine’ is amongst the best, but most are scented.

  • Osmanthus x burkwoodiiOsmanthus x burkwoodii AGM also known as Osmarea is from the same family as the Syringa (Oleaceae) but evergreen, and having pendulous racemes of white very scented flower mid to late spring. Large shrub with drooping branches weighed down with masses of white flowers.
    Downwind, the fragrance will attract - so heady.

  • Abeliophyllum distichm - White ForsythisAbeliophyllum distichum - The White Forsythia -  is another member of the Oleaceae family with the typical tubular flowers opening to star-like blooms. Very fragrant spring flowering shrub  – flowering on bare branches, best against a sunny wall – though not a climber as such. It has white or palest pink flowers. Abeliophyllum

  • Wisteria sinensis flowersWisteria hardly needs description as a noble climbing shrub. Unless you are the proud owner, very few realize that it is scented – mainly because it is grown as a house wall shrub and not therefore within easy sniffing distance! Wisteria sinensis types are for spring scent, whereas Wisteria floribunda is more early summer.

 

There are also several other shrubs which could be mentioned here if I were not to do a ‘winter-scented’ version – such as Mahonias - which often last well into spring, and the Witch Hazels to mention two. 



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