The horticultural equivalent of having eyes bigger than your stomach is buying a plant more suitable for a large estate than the small patch of green outside your back door. This is exactly what I did last week.
While so many nurseries have monstered into garden centres, with their detritus of "decorative" items and unrelated books, Farm Lane Nursery in Ashtead, Surrey, has stuck to what it does best for 35 years. It seems tiny, but a visit that looks as if it will take all of five minutes easily turns into an hour, as you browse the rows of plants, nearly all homegrown, the "Bygones", which could make interesting additions to a garden, old tools, and stoneware. That temptation is a post for another day.
My last-minute purchase, grabbed from beside the payment hut, like a chocolate bar from a check-out, was Lonicera fragrantissima, in full bloom and smelling sweetly gorgeous. It's also only about 18 inches high. The owner made a shrewd assessment of me, and kindly explained that it was easy to keep in check at about 4ft if I pruned it before it got too big.
I should have paid more attention and I should have asked about soil. Just into my inbox, a recent newsletter from the all-embracing Dave's Garden featured the Winter Honeysuckle (also, according to Dave's Winter-Blooming Shrubs: the Shortlist, called Breath of Spring. It can, apparently, grow to 10 feet tall and wide and needs dry to not-too-wet soil which drains well.
I fear a mistake has been made. Having spent the last few years divesting the garden of overgrown and unsuitable shrubs, I seem to have brought in a new one (yes, I know I can prune it, but...). Just about the only place to put it, in the front garden, is heavy clay that almost drowns in winter. Still, the BBC Plant Finder is more encouraging. According to that it can stand soil that is well-drained/light, clay/heavy, acidic, chalky/alkaline, or moist. Most things, then.
I'll stick it in and see what happens. At least it will be in full sun, which the chap at Farm Lane told me was necessary if its scent is to be enjoyed at its best.