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The Sweet Smell of Winter…

I know this is a food blog but every once in awhile I wander a little and go out to my garden.  I try to keep those wanderings food related but today it’s all about fragrance and flowers… 

A few years ago while wandering through WinterGarden in the Arboretum I was suddenly caught by the most wonderful fragrance wafting through the air! Looking all around me at first I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from.  Nothing seemed to be in bloom and this was definitely a flower smell – rather vanilla like. 

I continued to look around until I found a group of large plants with teeny flowers all over them but hardly visible as most of the blooms sit on the lower side of each branch nearly completely hidden by the leaves.  The flowers are not even ½” across. 

The plant wasn’t marked so I made my way to the visitor center to see if they knew what it was.  They did.  It was Sarcococca – one of the earliest blooming winter plants.  And at this time of year it is just the thing to brighten the day as we try to keep hope that spring will eventually come. 

I planted one just outside my front door where I catch it’s fragrance as I come and go from the house.  It’s in full bloom now – the first blossoms showed up in late December.  I’ll have another couple of weeks of wonderful  blooms which eventually will be replaced by glossy, dark-purple-nearly-black berries.  Mine is a Sarcococca Confusa which is the same as the more common Sarcococca Ruscifolia except the berries on the Ruscifolia are red.  I specifically chose the black berries as I loved their glossiness.

There is a third variety, hookerana humilis which is a low-growing, spreading variety but it has the same lovely fragrant flowers as the others. 


  1. Ovens to Betsy permalink
    24-Jan-2007 5:56 pm

    Too funny! As I was getting out of my car yesterday at my client\’s house I smelled this FABULOUS smell. When I first saw the bushes I didn\’t think it could be coming from them (I didn\’t immediately see the flowers), but sure enough, that was the source! After all the stormy weather we\’ve been having here in Seattle, it sure felt like springtime, didn\’t it!

  2. Culinary permalink
    24-Jan-2007 9:02 pm

    I\’ve been going crazy with the "warm" weather the last couple days!  I just want to be outside all day long.  Funny timing on you visiting your client and me talking about these!  ;-)

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