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Fragrant February: Floral scents stronger thanks to warmer weather, RHS says | UK News



This month could be the most fragrant February in memory thanks to last year’s hot summer and a lack of severe frosts over the winter, horticulturalists have said.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) said the warmer weather has meant seasonal flowers, including witch hazel, winter-flowering viburnums and shrubby honeysuckles, are currently blooming larger and more profusely.

It is thought that as plants have to compete for pollinators, some plants flower at this time to avoid the summer competition, the horticultural experts said.

Plants use scent, released on warm days when pollinating insects are most likely to be flying around, to entice pollinators such as flies, and the few bees that are active in winter.

Some scents such as wintersweet may fade by the end of February, but others, such as viburnum, will continue into March.

Gabriel Stagg, two, looks at the blooming witch hazel at RHS Wisley
Gabriel Stagg, two, looks at the blooming witch hazel at RHS Wisley

RHS chief horticulturist Guy Barter said: “After a period of cold, the flowers are coming out in a rush with the warming air, and on warm days in particular the scent drifts over the gardens.

“In summer, scents are prolific and tend to mingle but as fewer plants are in flower in winter, you can distinguish the individual scents more easily.”

The RHS said the flowers of witch hazel at its Wisley gardens in Surrey are larger than they have been for many years, while there are copious clusters of small blooms on edgeworthia, otherwise known as the paperbush.

At the new winter garden in Hyde Hall, Essex, curator Robert Brett said wintersweet, snowdrops and viburnum scents are the most remarkable he could remember.

Claire Rady, horticulturalist at RHS Wisley, admire the fragrant Daphne Bholua 'Limpsfield' flowers
Claire Rady, horticulturalist at RHS Wisley, admires the fragrant Daphne Bholua ‘Limpsfield’ flowers

Paul Cook, curator at Harlow Carr in Yorkshire, said the perfumes from 15 varieties of witch hazel are “bewitching”.

“Hamamelis has a wonderful winter scent that is stopping visitors in their tracks – it is the best I can remember,” he said.

“The fragrance is just bewitching, intensified by the mild winter and a lack of frost which can mute its sweet-smelling perfume.

“Many are beautifully aromatic – some floral, some zesty, some spicy – while others have little or no fragrance.

“Not all of it is to everyone’s taste, as it can edge towards overpowering.”

The RHS’ prediction comes as forecasters said Britain could get record-breaking temperatures this week after the warmest Valentine’s day in more than 20 years last week.

Sky News weather presenter Nazaneen Ghaffar said the weekend could break the all-time February temperature record of 19.7C (67.5F), which was recorded in Greenwich, east London, in 1988.

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