Wintersweet, Winter Honeysuckle, Juniper, or Roses

posyplanterAugust 24, 2011

I'm currently undecided with what to do along a rustic looking fence. We have one unusual, wonderfully fragrant Blue Juniper tree/bush there now, which never fails to give me loads of beautiful branches for Christmas. [The house always smells wonderful!] We've thought about planting more along the whole fence, but identifying/finding more plants has been all but impossible. We have found someone that is willing to propagate more for us [we'd need around 50] for a fee, and lots of patience.

I've recently discovered Wintersweet and Winter Honeysuckle which to me, are treasures just for fragrant winter blooms, if nothing else. I'm told that either of these would also work along the fence.

Add to this a long fascination with fragrant old garden roses and alas, I have a problem deciding what to do; which do I plant, or can I pull off a combination that will look great and not take every spare moment of my time? Any roses we plant would need to be fragrant to be worth it to me, and should probably not be too ferociously thorny to allow for occasional sealer to be put on the fence. Any ideas?

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I am sorry no one has responded to your post yet.
First of all, don't ever plant all one tree or shrub, especially as many as you would need, 50, blue junipers, because if they get a bug or a disease one year, it will spread and kill too many of them.(that is why you should mix it up to prevent that from happening).
I am glad you love your juniper though, I have a hollywood juniper on the back side of my house and I love it. But it is very slow growing, so it will take many years til it is a decent size.
I would suggest planting a variety of fragrant evergreens that you like mixed in to the border you would know what grows good for your zone.
Would you have to put something up on the fence for the vines to crawl on? Just wondering.
Is this area full sun? Mostly shade?
Roses require ALOT of water. Most roses grow good with each other about 4-5 feet apart, but I wouldn't plant them by a juniper, (which doesn't require any where near the amount of water roses do).
Depending on the amount of sun and wind in the winter, mabey camellias would do nice mixed in between your conifers by the fence. Mabey gardenias planted in front of the trees, if the evergreen trees or vines would shade them from the afternoon sun.
If you have to maintain the fence, just plant your trees far enough away so that a person can get behind them to occaionally seal it or repair or paint it.
You could start with trees as a back drop and vines, and see if you want small beds in front of the trees which you could plant some roses.
I use to have too many roses which required too much watering in the heat of the summer, dead heading, spraying, cleaning up after them, so I got rid of all of them but 3. I kept 3 in pots, and it is much easier to care for them now.
I planted grass and Hertz globe arborvitae instead and my maintaince stress level went down. LOL!
I do love the green in the winter when all of the grass turns brown and the leaves fall off some of the trees. The garden doesn't look naked with conifers and evergreen shrubs.
Good luck to you.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 1:20AM
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Thanks for the response butterfly; I've been away, so I didn't notice it right away, and I think everyone else is in the garden, so that is why the response is slow, lol!
I do grow a few roses and am realizing that although they can be low maintainence, [don't care for knock outs, sorry!] it's important to choose wisely, because yes, I agree they need a lot of water in summer! perhaps I can eliminate those as a possibility.
I have never found juniper anywhere as fragrant as our blue juniper, and really wish it was more widely available. As wonderful as it smells, I can't believe it isn't more popular! You're probably right though, better not to put all my eggs in one basket. So far, ours has never had a disease or pest, even here in the muggy Mid Atlantic; not sure how likely that would be with Juniper.
Anyone ever grow wintersweet or winter honeysuckle? Does one bloom earlier than the other, and are there different varieties? If so, which would be best?
[In front of the fence is the south side, with part shade, but it gets a nice amount of sun.]

    Bookmark   September 20, 2011 at 10:28PM
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Jennifer_Ruth(Z 10, Sunset Z 23)

I'm not familiar with wintersweet, but I grew winter honeysuckle, Lonicera fragrantissima, when we lived in Indiana (Zone 5). It blooms very, very early in spring or even late winter. The fragrance is lovely, clean and sweet. The flowers are white with yellow stamens.

It tolerates quite a bit of shade. Mine was squeezed between a tall hedge and a Colorado blue spruce, and got sun only in early morning and late afternoon. It got to be about seven feet tall. Glenn Varner of the now-closed (sigh) Flower Scent Gardens used to sell it, and I'm pretty sure he said it could be pruned to keep it the size you want. It's not all that attractive when it's out of bloom, so I think you would want to include other plants with it along the fence.

One place that carries it now is Annie's Annuals and Perennials, a place I've received excellent plants from. (Don't be put off by the fact that they send it in a 4" pot. Their 4" pot plants are like other nurseries' gallon size, very well grown.) They are having a 20% off sale starting October 1, both in the nursery and online, so you might want to check then and see if they have it in stock. You can find them at

You asked about roses. Two that have very few thorns are Zephirine Drouhin, a rose pink Bourbon type from 1868, and Reine des Violettes, a very bluish lavender hybrid perpetual type from 1860. I've grown both of these and like them very much. Both are fragrant. Both are climbers. As I recall, Reine des Violettes had very flexible canes, the type you could kind of toss over the top of a fence. I have Zephirine Drouhin planted against my picket fence now, and it's been pretty cooperative about being tucked in around the slats. Thornless roses like these are ideal for planting along a sidewalk.

Roses of Yesterday and Today has a page listing roses for special conditions, such as shade-tolerant, thornless, etc. It's been years since I ordered from them, so I don't know they are to deal with, but that page should be very helpful to you.

Good luck with your project! Let us know what you eventually choose.


Here is a link that might be useful: Roses of Yesterday and Today

    Bookmark   September 24, 2011 at 9:13PM
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Thanks, Jennifer!
The longer I think about it, the more I'm favoring a mixture, because as much as I love the idea of a mass planting of fragrant winter blooms, branches for Christmas decorating, or [tons!] of fragrant roses for bouquets, I'd like that area to offer something year round. Except for the fragrant Juniper [Yes, I even use it in summer bouquets with lavender and white yarrow or Queen Anne's lace, it's lovely!] everything else would be seasonal.
Although they don't offer much for fragrance, I'm considering adding some pretty mauve cushion mums along there as well. I have some humongous bushes that need dividing, and they have done very, very well for me so far.
Ok, now how about wintersweet? I seems like branches of that would look [and smell!] lovely combined with blue juniper. Anyone grow that, and if so, is it better with other plants, or better left on it's own?

    Bookmark   September 29, 2011 at 2:10PM
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