It is this time of year when I finally notice plants that are not roses. The shrubs that provide winter interest in my garden are usually not dramatic, with the exception of camellias, and are overshadowed by the bounty of rose and perennial blooms the rest of the year. But I appreciate them now.
I love Daphne Odora for its wonderful fragrance. Also, it blooms in February, when winter is at its bleakest. We first saw (and smelled) it at Hakone Gardens, and I had to get one for myself. The Western Gardening Book says it is prone to sudden dieback, but mine has been in the ground in partial shade for 4 years now, and so far, so good. We keep it by the front door in an enclosed courtyard where the fragrance remains for a long time. It is evergreen, and the one at Hakone Gardens (a much older plant than mine) is only 4'x4'. Mine has variegated foliage. The care tips I have read suggest it needs little summer water, but mine regularly sits in puddles of water because of iffy drainage in the courtyard, and does not seem to mind.
But back to roses. Lots of mine set hips, and I stop deadheading those from which I want hip displays in October. Usually (but not always) the hips will set, ripen and persist through the winter. The most beautiful hips in my garden come from a hybrid rugosa, Purple Pavement. I actually do not deadhead it at all, and it blooms all through the summer (I have had no fall bloom on my 3-year old plant). The hips are fairly soft and do not last through the winter for me. Birds love them.
The Imposter sets hips enthusiastically and continues blooming too. The hips are hard and last all the way till pruning time. A very easy rose for me, with year-round color, and very healthy. The only thing that is missing is fragrance.
Rugosa roses are well known for their colorful fall foliage.
It is interesting to observe the different hues they display and it adds greatly to my enjoyment of the garden at a time when not much else is attracting my attention.
The garden is winding down now, with a only few rose blooms here and there, fallen leaves gently rustling in the wind, the intense sunlight gone. Time to prune and think of spring.