Plant of the month - Viburnum burkwoodii
Viburnum burkwoodii is a shrub that can be easily overlooked, the limelight stolen by more showy shrubs like Magnolia or Camellia, but its fragrance is an attribute that easily earns it a place in any garden.
In early March there is a point when the blossom has gone over for many of the well known winter flowering shrubs such as Sarcococca and Mahonia, and more glamorous Spring flowering shrubs like Magnolia have yet to get into full swing. It is then that Viburnum burkwoodii has its moment, coming into flower almost regardless of the weather. Its understated panicles of pink buds that open into starry blush-white flowers are attractive in their own right, but it is the scent that catches the attention - to my mind not unlike the fragrance of the lily, though more delicate.
Viburnum burkwoodii is easy to grow - so long as it is in moist free-draining soil it will be equally happy in full sun right through to almost complete shade. It is semi-evergreen, in my experience holding its glossy leaves all year round when grown in full shade. When positioned in full sun, where it seems to have a more deciduous growth cycle, the leaves can turn a lovely dark red in the autumn.
It is a good companion plant - under plant it with spring bulbs such as Crocus tommasinianus. Plant a late flowering Clematis nearby, one that is cut back hard each year, and it will happily scramble up through V. burkwoodii. Clematis texensis Gravetye Beauty would make a good choice.
The species plant is a reliable choice, and there are also cultivars such as 'Anne Russell' and 'Mohawk' available, but which ever one you choose, plant it close to where you will frequently pass and the scent will surprise you every time.
Posted 19 March 2016
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