Thursday, March 18, 2010

Winter jasmine

This is Jasminum nudiflorum, the winter jasmine. It’s one of those plants which is likely to appear on lists of “100 plants every garden should have” – and I’m inclined to agree with that point of view. Beginning gardeners confuse it with the much more widely grown forsythias. That’s not surprising: they both bloom early in the growing season, they are both yellow flowered shrubs and, something which most gardeners are probably not aware of, they are related. Both are members of the Oleaceae, the olive family.

The display here has been good this year. In most recent years the sparrows have treated the winter jasmine as their winter salad bar: as soon as the blooms begin to swell, the sparrows strip the branches. Usually only those buds closest to the ground mature successfully.

This plant can be allowed to sprawl, allowed to hang over a wall, allowed to mound itself up into a little bush, or be trained against walls or pillars. It's beautiful or at least interesting at all seasons: the small, three parted leaves are handsome throughout the summer, and the green branches are decorative throughout the winter. It has no significant pests or diseases of which I'm aware. Plants against a wall are apt to be in bloom on and off throughout the winter.

Although it is a true jasmine, it has no scent. Most of us think it’s already doing enough to earn its keep.

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