Summer, Common and Winter jasmine
The wonderful jasmine is popular as garden plant throughout the year. Summer or Common jasmine (J. officinale) is valued for its heady scent whilst Winter jasmine (J. nudiflorum) is justly popular for its outstanding flowers that develop on bare branches in late winter.
A gift from god
The name ‘jasmine’ is derived from the Persian yasmin which means "a gift from God". Recent research published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry has found that the sweet smell of jasmine is as effective as Valium for calming the nerves!
Interestingly, essential oils of jasmine are a key ingredient in an iconic brand of French perfume, which may go some way to explain its popularity. Winter jasmine is much less fragrant (though strangely some gardeners do experience scent from theirs), but it does deliver a colour benefit that can’t be bettered, just when the garden needs it most.
Consider for a moment the flowers - bright, sunshine yellow, vivid and pure against the naked twigs of the winter plant. What better to add cheerfulness and delight to even the barest of winter gardens? The yellow miniature flowers appear from vibrant green stems and are tough enough to survive the coldest of our British ‘cold snaps’. Now is a great time to focus attention on this flower as it is when the Winter jasmine really earns its place in the garden.
History of Winter jasmine
To give a little historical background, this species was brought to our shores by the renowned plant hunter Robert Fortune in 1844 from northern China. It was named for its flowers which appear before its leaves, nudiflorum meaning naked flower (the ‘nude’ bit being a giveaway to the origin of the name).
Unlike other jasmines, Winter jasmine does not twine and therefore needs training if vertical growth is required. Although not actually a climber, the arching, rambling stems of this beautiful plant can grow up to 5m in length.
Sorts of Winter jasmines
Species to look out for include: Jasminum nudiflorum ‘Aureum’. This plant has yellow leaves and flowers in February and March. Jasminum nudiflorum ‘Nanum’ is dwarf, slow growing and compact, so ideally suited to situations where space is tight. As a gardening problem-solver, it is a winner. It’s fast growing, tolerant of poor soils and will tolerate some shade.
It’s easy to maintain too, but vigorous varieties will respond best if given a severe pruning every 3-4 years. Not enough is said about the therapeutic effect of plants. Winter jasmine should be right up there in the roll-call of feel-good providers. A splash of sunshine yellow in February really is what the doctor orders and by planting one of these you are guaranteeing your dose.