Wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox)
One of the best things about returning to the gardens after Christmas break is the chance to stick my nose into a cluster of Wintersweet blooms. Only just coming into flower just before the holiday it is now throwing all caution to the wind, flaunting it's frilly, strongly perfumed blooms in the cold air. We have a mature specimen at the college front that reaches out over the wall of the skinny Rectory garden, the scent wafting invisible magic spells on passers by. If you want to propergate this heady winter shrub then you may need a bit of patience, layering is the best method, although they can take up to two years to root. For the seriously patient, ie if you've reached a state of blissful enlightenment where time itself has ceased to be, and every breath you take is a Universal one, then you could try sowing the seed. Its easy to germinate, but will take about seven years from this point to flowering, if you're lucky! Failing that you could buy one from a nursery or garden centre, but that would be cheating, and why deny yourself 'YEARS!!' of anticipation. Do yourself one favour though, if you don't have one, scan all the West and South facing front gardens in your area, head out to a National Trust property, trespass if needs be to get a big lung full of its perfume before the winter comes to an end.