Growing in our shrubby honeysuckle collection, this is the earliest of the winter-flowering species.
The genus Lonicera includes 180 species of deciduous and evergreen shrubs and climbers from woodland and rocky locations of the Northern Hemisphere. Many are familiar with the twining climbers, which bring both flower and scent to the summer garden, though the winter flowering shrubs are also valuable in the garden. This one, Lonicera standishii var. lancifolia, is a native of China, having been introduced to our gardens by Ernest Wilson in 1908. It is the earliest of the winter flowering species to bloom, producing flowers in late autumn which will persist through to spring. The tubular, two-lipped flowers are fragrant, and are borne along the length of the stem in axillary pairs, and these are followed by red berries. The bristly leaves are lance-shaped, with a slender tip, hence the varietal name lancifolia, while this species takes its name from John Standish (1814 – 1875) of Standish and Noble nurseries of Berkshire.