One of the joys of a winter garden in the Pacific Northwest is fragrant shrubs. We planted a Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ in our front garden many years ago. This vase-shaped shrub begins blooming for us around the first of December and carries through until March.
‘Dawn’ was selected as one of the Great Plant Picks
We planted ‘Dawn’ as a large accent shrub in our front garden where it can be enjoyed from the sidewalk and it also provides a little privacy for our living room windows. Ours is now a mature specimen that has reached eight feet or so in height.
While we usually have rather mild winters in Bellingham, ‘Dawn’ doesn’t seem to care too much about colder temperatures. In mid-January we had a low near 10°F with no damage. Some years extended cold snaps will turn blossoms brown, but a few weeks later there are fresh blooms to take their place. It blooms through snow, rain, and wind. As soon as the weather calms down the heady fragrance drifts back toward our front door, greeting me as I retrieve the morning newspaper.
Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ is a hybrid, developed in Germany by crossing the Chinese V. farreri with the Himalayan V. grandiflorum. As such, if you’re a native plant purist you wouldn’t want to plant this one. But we’re not purists in our garden, and ‘Dawn’ is generally sterile. I’ve never seen any fruit on our shrub. That means as introduced species go it is well-behaved. You’re unlikely to find it spreading beyond where you plant it.
Our ‘Dawn’ has required very little attention over the years. We occasionally prune out a bit of the old wood and do a little shaping but that’s about it. You can prune while it’s in bloom and bring a branch or two inside to enjoy the blossoms and their fragrance while not much else is in bloom.
‘Dawn’ is popular in the Northwest, and rightfully so. Most nurseries or garden centers should be able to get one for you if they don’t have it in stock.
The photographs here were made in previous years. To see what it looked like on February 1, 2012 check out the Digital Photo Tip story this month for three more photos of ‘Dawn’.