Winter Blooms with sweet scents filling the air, the dreary days of winter are cheered by the fact that many of our garden flowers that grace these short days are also some of our most fragrant. The quiet days of January and February when few holiday on the Island, is a time that I enjoy getting my garden ready for the Spring rush.
Those of us who work in the tourist industry often have little time for pottering around at home when the Island is buzzing with visitors and so it is a great pleasure to have a garden that you want to get into even in the depths of winter. The heady scents of Christmas Box, Witch-hazel, Winter sweet, Daphne and Viburnum, to name but a few, flood my January garden.
So to, a walk in the country also gives us numerous scented flowers and two that can be found in generous amounts are gorse and winter heliotrope. The gorse gracing the downs and filling the cool air with its coconut scent is a plant that hardly ever stops flowering an oft quoted country saying being “kissing is in season when the gorse bears its blooms”. Luckily for those in love this is most of the time! Winter Heliotrope is actually a native of the Mediterranean but has become widespread in Britain. It has become a bit of a weed problem but ignoring the potentially invasive nature of this plant, when in flower the scent is heavenly. It can be found along hedgerows, ditches and watercourses.
The Isle of Wight is of course blessed with a very mild climate in comparison to most of the British Isles and this is reflected in peoples’ gardens throughout the entire Island. For the visitor a walk through almost any village or town here will uncover many unusual plants, ranging from large palm trees and cabbage trees or huge agaves that occasionally surprise their owners by throwing up a flower spike that can be over 15 feet high.
The Isle of Wight is a treasure trove of exotica, Osborne House, Mottistone Manor and Ventnor Botanic Garden are great places to go even early in the year to see amazing plants from all over the world.