December's Plant of the month

There's plenty to like about this viburnum that flowers for two thirds of the year

The scented flowers of Viburnum 'Charles Lamont' stand out against bare branchesThere is never really a time when this particular shrub (its full name is Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Charles Lamont’) doesn’t look good. At Harlow Carr we have a stand of about six or seven on the Winter Walk, where they are invaluable. In fact this incredible shrub has one of the longest seasons of interest out of many of the other plants in this area.

They always amaze us in that they actually start to flower in August and will go through to around April. That’s eight months of continuous flowering, hitting a peak around December to March. By December the shrubs have lost all the foliage, which will have changed from a deep bronzy green through rusty and purplish tones.

Throughout the winter the bare stems are festooned in delicate pale pink flowers that really pack a punch with the heady scent that fills the air, which is so appreciated at this dull time of year.

It’s a shame that this shrub isn’t used more often; it is extremely adaptable to a range of situations, it's incredibly hardy, has a long season of interest and a great perfume.

Viburnum x bodnantense 'Charles Lamont' with red-stemmed cornus in the backgroundIt’s wonderful on its own, or you can try it with partners. We grow ours alongside the outstanding red stems of the dogwood Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’, with pink Erica (winter-flowering heathers), large-leaved Bergenia and the willow Salix acutifolia ‘Blue Streak’ AGM.

Why not join us on a guided tour of the Winter Walk?

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