A plant’s scent is derived from volatile essential oils. What is better than walking past a shrub devoid of leaves in January, and being stopped in your tracks? The translucent yellow flowers are streaked with a purple interior and have a delicious spicy-sweet fragrance. Winter sweet’s Latin name is not so easily passed over the tongue….Chimonanthus praecox.
I have this shrub in my home garden where it is approaching 14 ft in height. The back yard is saturated with a pleasant odor. You can put your nose up to Haverford’s as you walk up the steps out of the bookstore from the Campus Center. Winter sweet blooms on warm days through late December through February. For the rest of the year the shrub inconspicuously blends in to the garden. This is one of those plants whose best attributes come at a time we least expect a powerful punch of perfumery. Close your eyes and let your nose be you guide !