With barely anything blooming in the garden yet (apart from bulbs) I think I can say that we've already had one of the best performers of the year. For at least a month, the winter honeysuckle has been glorious.
I last wrote about it, Lonicera fragrantissima, in 2014, when it had been in three years and, it seems, I was keeping it smallish and still having to bend down to smell the flowers. I bemoaned the fact that the scent didn't waft far from the bush.
Well, three years on, and six years since I worried that the honeysuckle was a mistake, what a change. I've walked down the garden every day to be engulfed in the delicious sweetness of its scent. It still grows like Topsy, now pretty much six feet high, with greater aspirations that I will have to discourage. And it's been smothered in flowers which have drawn in my first butterfly of the year - a brimstone - in warm sun, and countless bees even on dull days. Their buzzing has been a reminder of summer to come.
It turns out to be good in the house too, filling the sitting-room with scent on days when the sun has come through, though obviously flower arrangement-wise it's a bit minimalist and the blossom drops all over the place.
So, I have to admit to a great satisfaction. Six years on, with doubts along the way, it now does exactly what I hoped it would, even drawing the eye down the garden to the cloud of white blossom. I'd like to say I always knew it would work, but you only have to look back at previous posts to see how untrue that would be.
But it's been well worth the wait, and if you want an early flowering shrub, heavily scented, that doesn't have to star at any other time of year, I'd certainly put Winter Honeysuckle into the hat. Is there another shrub you think should join it?