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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Viburnum x bodnantense 'Dawn', Adoxaceae

The darkest days of winter in our garden have been brightened by the scented flowers of Viburnum bodnantense 'Dawn', which has been in bloom continuously since late November. The first flowers tend to be damaged by the worst of the winter weather but the recent ones, now it's a little milder, have a more intense colour. The twigs make good cut flowers for a small vase because the flowers are borne on their tips and open to perfection indoors.

V. x bodnantense is a hybrid between V. farreri and V. grandiflorum, raised at Bodnant in North Wales in 1935.

It used to be thought that Viburnum belonged to the honeysuckle family, Caprifoliaceae, but recent molecular studies using DNA sequencing have shown it to be a member of the family Adoxaceae. Forty years ago, when I was a trainee botanist, the Adoxaceae was believed to contain just a single species, town-hall clock Adoxa moschatellina but, as is so often the case, molecular biology has revealed unsuspected phylogenetic relationships.