This week I have chosen shrubby winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima). This is a stunning splash of sweetness in February, with bare branches covered with small white scented flowers. Preferring full sun or part shade and moist but well drained soil, I have found them good tempered and plant in quite a bit of shade and in dryer locations (preferably not both) with good results. The one pictured is on a largely shaded north-east corner wall partly under an apple tree. The scent wafts across the garden on a warmer day, and I pick twigs to place in the kitchen and scent the house.
Growing to around 2m they tend to be a bit unruly, and pair well with neater shrubs -as in this example with some loosely clipped purple Pittosporum “Tom Thumb” plants. It’s a good approach to put some evergreen (ever-purple?) with those like the lonicera that have a short (but delightful) season of interest. It can be clipped to keep it small and therefore can be used in a wide range of mixed borders with other shrubs and perennials. There are berries to come which the birds like but which are dull red in colour, and the leaf is a smallish plain green oval- attractive as a light backdrop.