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Fragrant Flowers in the Museum’s Garden in December

December 20, 2011

The garden at the Museum is primarily planted for a long and beautiful summer display, but some plants are in bloom even now, to greet those most hardy of visitors who brave the elements to visit the museum in the winter.

We have no real planting plan as to how the garden appeared at that time Jane Austen lived at the Cottage, but Celia, our wonderful gardener, tries very hard to choose plants and shrubs that would only have been available to the Austens when they were living here.  She sometimes makes some exceptions to this general rule…and she always has a good reason to do so.

One of her favourite plants is the very fragrant shrub, the Winter Honeysuckle, Lonicera fragrantissima. So, in order to bring some life to the garden in winter, and to make the garden interesting for winter visitors, Celia has planted a specimen of this shrub against teh Trellis Wall to the rear of the Museum. It was first introduced into England from China by the famed Scottish plant hunter, Robert Fortune in 1845.

As you can see, the plant has very beautiful, simple, creamy-white, trumpet-shaped flowers, and I can report that  they have the most beautiful lemon-scented fragrance.

This year the shrub began to bloom in the  second week in December, and here, below,  is Celia with the first flowering twig. Frosts permitting, it usually continues to flower until February.

What a pity it is that we cannot share with you the fragrance of this beautiful shrub,  only the images! Of course if you are lucky enough to visit the museum when it is in flower, we hope you take a walk around the garden to find it and experience its wonderful scent for yourselves !

6 Comments leave one →
  1. December 20, 2011 12:33 pm

    The winter honeysucke strikes very readily too – how about striking some cuttings to sell to visitors as a wonderful keepsake?
    Mine is in flower too and it is indeed heavenly.

    • jfwakefield permalink*
      December 20, 2011 1:15 pm

      Celia, our gardener does have some plants for sale during the summer season, but she also presses flower and leaves from the plants in the garden with which she makes notecards and bookmarks.These are also for sale in the Museum’s shop, so next time you visit perhaps you’d like to treat yourself to some!

  2. Cathy Allen permalink
    December 24, 2011 1:46 am

    We used to have some honeysuckle — long gone, unfortunately. It is a lovely, sweet fragrance, of course, and it seems to be very appropriate in Chawton’s garden.

    • jfwakefield permalink*
      December 24, 2011 10:16 am

      The Winter Flowering Honeysuckle really does have the most sweet fresh, lemon scent. It’s a real boon to the winter garden.


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