This is one plant I would not like to be without, especially during the dark winter monthsï»¿ï»¿. It’s a medium to large sized shrub that produces flowers all the way through the winter months, sometimes starting in October and lasting all the way through to April. In one garden I recorded a flower on the plant for 10 successive months.
Its remarkable, small, delicate flowers are extremely hardy and although they can be damaged during very cold nights, more are produced with any rise in temperature through the winter. Their sweet perfume will provide cheer on many a winter’s day. Position the plants close to your house or by a path to ensure you enjoy it every day.
V. x bodnantense is a result of a cross between V. Farreri and V. grandiflorum. Both parents flower at this time of year amd each has its merits, however, the cross V. bodnantense captures the best characteristics of both. A trip to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh will reward you with an opportunity to viewand compare all the varieties mentioned here.
V. bodnantense will grow in most soils and a Â emost suited to a sunny site, although they adapt to some shade.Te addition of organic matter on planting will assist development on most soil types.
Plants have the potential to grow very large over time so they should be pruned by removing the older branches in early spring. This helps to keep the plants in check and younger growths will be produced from the base.
All three cultivars listed below have been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit, but my personal favourite is V. bodnantense ‘Charles Lamont’. This plant has strong local connections beig called after Charles Lamont who hybridised the first hybrid in 1933 in his garden in Edinburgh while working as an assistant curator at the RBGE. I have a young plant in my garden measuring only 1.4m x 0.4m and as I write this article, it has nearly 100 clusters of flowers, each with about 20 small blooms.
V. bodnantense ‘Charles Lamont’ (pictured top left)
Described sometimes as having flowers of a purer pink than the others and is said to flower more freely, as the young plant in my own garden would seem to suggest.