February's plant of the month

For delightful scent and showy flowers in late winter, this pink version of the white forsythia is hard to beat

From bare stems, beauty bursts forth – and it’s quite sudden. At the beginning of the month, Abeliophyllum distichum isn’t much to look at, but look closely and you’ll see dark purple buds on wiry stems. Before long, these open to reveal four-petalled, pale pink, starry flowers. Commonly known as white forsythia, this plant is fragrant and showy in February.

At Wisley, white forsythia makes an impression on the edge of Oakwood as you walk towards The Glasshouse via Seven Acres. But if you carry on around the Seven Acres path – taking the Winter Walk – you’ll find a pinker flower. This is Abeliophyllum distichum Roseum Group – the pink-flowered white forsythia.

It is a rather lax plant, easy to tie against walls or up supports. We have half a dozen simple, yet ornate, metal obelisks on the River Wey side of the path, and encourage this lovely plant to entwine around it. It makes for an attractive sight. The bonus here is that the obelisks provide interest at other times of year.
 
By the Conifer Lawn, on the outside of the Walled Garden, you’ll find a wall-trained specimen. This one is supported by a series of subtle wires. Once the Abeliophyllum has finished blooming, other climbers and shrubs supply interest.
 
It’s an easy plant to grow and control, unlikely to get too large for its space, and makes a sweetly-scented, pretty show.

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