by Rosemary Verey

One day 27 years ago, long before I became an enthusiastic gardener, my husband came home with a bush of wintersweet, given to him by an old lady from her garden. [The woman] said it would not flower for seven years and then forever after would do so generously. She was right.

I always appreciate its wonderful scent and bring small sprigs indoors on Christmas day and all through January. Slowly it has been growing over one of our drawing-room windows, which is now completely covered.

The decision has been made; it must be pruned down to windowsill level. So I have been cutting long luxurious branches covered in buds and open flowers, and we have reveled in the fragrance of the rather sinister waxy yellow and red flowers.

Will it flower next year after such drastic pruning? 

Only time will tell, and I hope that the kind old lady, now dead, will intercede for us and it.
— Rosemary Verey, gardener and garden writer, A Countrywoman's Year, January

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