One of the great delights of winter and early spring, come from a rather small, almost insignificant, white flower, of sweet box. You don’t really notice the flowers. It’s the fragrance you’ll notice. You’ll be walking down the street and suddenly a stunning sweet fragrance hits you and you wonder where it comes from. Eventually you notice a box-type of shrub, with small white flowers, and realise it is from THIS, that the fragrance derives.
Sarcococca, known as the sweet box, for it’s similarity to the shrub common box, Buxus sempervirens, only with fragrance. And without having the problem of being hit by box blight. Most of the photos here are of the cultivar Sarcococca hookeriana var. digyna ‘Purple Stem’. As you can see, it has a purple stem, though in bright sunlight it gives off a purplish-red tone.
The flowers, which are ongoing for a couple of months, are really quite small, and only noticeable for the white stamens that stand out well proud of the tiny petals.
But most of all, it’s the sweet fragrance. This is the recently planted Sarcococca confusa hedge planted in the front garden. 19 young shrubs. In a couple of years, the fragrance in winter will be incredible. Not only will I get to enjoy it, but anyone walking by will too.
I went for S. confusa for the hedge instead of ‘purple gem’, as I personally think it bushes out better for creating a hedge. ‘Purple gem’ can get a little woody. But it’s gorgeous shrub and this one sits in a sunny spot in the back garden.
For me, Sarcococca is an essential shrub to be added to a garden. It doesn’t grow too fast or too big (S. confusa is c. 1m high x 2m wide), can grow in pots, and the maintenance is minimal. If you plant one shrub in the garden in the UK, Sarcococca should be it. It really makes a statement.
It’s oh so sweet.
1 thought on “Oh so sweet: the sweet box fragrance in winter”
What a great idea for a border! It’s not a plant I’m particularly familiar with, I may have to change that.