Thursday, 13 January 2011

Winter Jasmine...

It is the low point in the year for colour in the garden, so those plants willing to stand up against the weather and stand out against the grey, overcast skies during these short dark days are to be applauded. One of the few hardy and plucky enough to shine forth despite all the obstacles stacked against it is the wonderful ‘Winter Jasmine’.


Its bright primrose, six petalled flowers explode like little stars along the length of its bare branches right through the coldest months. Snow fall and the sharpest frosts may set it back slightly, browning off the open flowers, but fresh blooms soon follow as conditions improve. It is certainly one of the most reliable and hardy of garden performers. Although this plant is easily overlooked for much of the rest of the year, just at the moment its cheerful yellow flowers are a sign that winter’s grip will not last forever and garden life’s low ebb will soon take a turn for the better.

It is closely related to other jasmines, but ‘Jasminum nudiflorum’ as the ‘Winter Jasmine’ is more scientifically known, lacks the group’s famous scent and also the usual twisting stems. So, it must be given a little support through which to scramble, or some wires or trellis onto which it can be initially tied. It is therefore almost always found trained hard against a wall near a door or beneath a window where in time it may spread or grow up to about 3 metres. It is forgivingly happy in sun or shade, facing north, south, east or west!
The small, fingered leaves may fall like so many others in autumn, but the impression is not then of bare, brown branches. Instead, the long, whippy new shoots retain their olive colour and the overall look is that of an evergreen spangled with gold. In early spring, as its flowering season comes to an end, these flowered growths can be pruned or sheared hard back to the wall and new shoots will emerge to do duty the following year.
The older I get, the more I appreciate these out of season flowers. In Spring and Summer, blossom and blooms may lay thick on the ground, almost overwhelming us in their rich profusion, but those plants brave enough to brighten winter’s dark and dismal days are the most wonderful of all, well worth seeking out and cherishing...

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