Bringing freshness to even the darkest winter day, clusters of silky, creamy-white flowers with prominent yellow anthers emerge from November to March. However, the sight of its flowers isn't the reason to grow this shrub. While the flowers may be small, their fragrance will stop you in your tracks.
Lonicera × purpusii ‘Winter Beauty’ is not too fussy about soil (as long as it is not waterlogged), aspect or exposure (it is also salt tolerant) however, it flowers best in sun or dappled shade.
To be able to fully appreciate the delicious fragrance, plant it near a path or door, but bear in mind that it looks rather insignificant once it has flowered. It is therefore best planted among other shrubs that have interest through the rest of the year such as rhododendrons, hydrangeas, viburnums and Spiraea. As an added bonus, it is a vital source of nectar for bumblebees which may have been disturbed from hibernation during a warm spell.
Flowering stems make a useful addition to winter arrangements, bringing its heady fragrance into the house, but shrubby honeysuckles are best left unpruned to grow into their natural shape with graceful, arching branches. If it does become overgrown, cut back a third of the stems to the base to open up the plant.
At Rosemoor we have the luxury of plenty of space, so we have planted ‘Winter Beauty’ with groups of other shrubs with winter interest in the lower shrub borders behind the formal gardens. Viburnum × bodnantense 'Charles Lamont' AGM produces pink flowers during the winter months with a fragrance that mingles with that of the honeysuckle. Mahonia × media 'Charity' has strongly architectural evergreen leaves; the yellow flowers also producing a heady scent, but earlier in the season. Hellebores, snowdrops and bergenias make a lovely ground cover display, along with semi-evergreen ferns (Dryopteris). All against a backdrop of the large shiny evergreen leaves of the cherry laurel, Prunus laurocerasus 'Latifolia'.
The value of this Lonicera lies in its fleeting beauty at a time of year when we may be struggling to find interest in the garden. For this reason alone it is worth finding a spot for this highly fragrant, winter flowering shrub.
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