Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sarcococca humilis, sweet box

I had something to do at the back of the garden yesterday, and as I rushed from the house I was stopped in my tracks by an intense fragrance which I did not expect. It turned out to be the fragrance of the sweet box, Sarcococca humilis. It's blooming better this year than ever before. That's it in the upper image above.

Since Sarcocca (sweet box)  and Buxus (boxwood) are closely related, seeing the sweet box in bloom reminded me to check the boxwood plants also. Sure enough, Buxus sempervirens 'Vardar Valley' is in full, sweetly fragrant bloom. When the topic of scent comes up in a discussion of boxwood, most people seem to know only about the cat scent of the foliage of Buxus sempervirens. Because the dwarf box 'Suffruticosa' is the most frequently encountered box in this area, and that form evidently never blooms, many people do not realize that not only can boxwood bloom but also that the flowers can be sweetly and agreeably scented.  But maybe not all forms of common box are agreeably scented. Buxus sempervirens 'Graham Blandy' is also in bloom, and the scent to me is more peculiar than pleasant.

Note: after writing the above about two weeks ago, I noticed something odd looking on one of the 'Suffruticosa' boxwood here: it was in bloom! So dwarf box does bloom after all.

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