An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

February 18, 2011

Jasminum nudiflorum: A Yellow Signal of Change

Yesterday on the way home from work, I passed by Waterside in downtown Norfolk.  In front of the parking garage is a huge swath of Winter Jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) doing its best to make an ugly building less so.  This time of year I look for its flowers as my signal that the end of winter is near.  Though late in blooming, they are a welcome sight nonetheless.

Jasminum nudiflorum (3)

The city of Norfolk uses this plant in many municipal plantings, and I am thankful for it.  Just when you need a bolt of bright yellow change in the landscape, Winter Jasmine steps up.  Can Daffodils and Forsythia be far behind?

Jasminum nudiflorum (2)

Winter Jasmine is a low sprawling shrub with green-in-any-season, long arching branches.  It gets about 3-4' tall by 5-6' wide, and can be pruned immediately after flowering if needed.  It prefers full sun, but will grow in some shade, only with fewer flowers.  It is hardy from zones 6-10 and appreciates good drainage, and in fact is quite drought tolerant once established. 

Jasminum nudiflorum

Native to China, this plant was first brought to Western gardens by Robert Fortune, one of history's most interesting plant explores.  At a time when much of China was closed to Westerners, Fortune disguised himself as a Mandarin merchant and would travel into forbidden areas in search of new finds.  We can thank Mr. Fortune for scores of our most cherished garden plants; Wikipedia has a detailed list of all the species he introduced.

Jasminum nudiflorum (4)

It seems my favorite patch of Winter Jasmine was correct in predicting the eventual demise of winter, for today the temperature actually climbed into the seventies.  Since I was off today, I was able to spend the whole day outside doing my best to clear, clean and prune away this long cold winter.


  1. Les,
    Now you have me thinking. I thought I saw 3 forsythias blooming today, perhaps it was this jasmine, it did look a little different.

    Our first rock iris opened late today.

  2. Lucky you in the seventies! We might have brushed 60 in CT today, but we're back to winter soon, with another big nasty one predicted. Taking notes on that winter jasmine as I contemplate relocating south - it looks so happy in what must be a difficult location!

  3. I can only hope your jasmine is correct about the demise of winter for the year! I just noticed that mine "exploded" overnight with the warm temps! Such a welcome sign of spring coming!

  4. Winter Jasminum, beautiful. It does look like forsythia blossoms.
    I used to enjoy visiting waterside when my sister lived in Norfolk in Ghent. It is a beautiful waterfront.

  5. I saw some blooming in downtown Greenwood this afternoon and was rethinking my plan for my bank along the lake. Jasminum nudiflorum was a recommendation by my friend Mr. Orband. If I had taken his recommendation, I too would be having a burst of yellow in my yard.

  6. The winter jasmine is pretty and I too though forsythia. But that was so common everywhere in Pennsylvania where I am from originally.In fact, yellow was common there in general. When I was little, it was the yellow buttercups.

  7. Les, How beautiful! I have never seen so many blooming in one place. Lovely!!

  8. The best way to enjoy winter jasmine is when it is allowed to grow with abandon. Wish I had an area large enough for a glorious winter display like this.

  9. Beautiful way to liven up what could be a neglected strip of dirt. Thanks for the link to the Wikipedia article, very interesting.

  10. Great profile of an often underrated plant. I wish I had understood how much shade the back of my east-facing fence got when I started gardening, I planted a winter jasmine there all proud of myself for thinking of winter interest and it rarely flowers, poor thing. It was bitter-sweet to see how lovely it is in full bloom.

  11. Wow! Look at those yellow blooms, so bright and sunny and really make an ugly sight beautiful! Such an amazing sight!

  12. What an amazing sea of yellow! it must be great to see it live

  13. I am envious. The only yellow in Maine has been left by dogs on old snow. I am counting down the weeks to Forsythia. We made it to nearly 50 this week and everything is dripping and then freezing overnight.

  14. That jasminum nudiflorum, isn't exactly nudi, is it?
    Makes me sick when I look at ours now: they have about 5% of flower density. I didn't know it could look like that.
    BTW, 253.7 - out of what may I ask :-)

  15. It's wonderful in front of that building. What a fabulous use of it. I don't think I've seen it here like that. A nice dose of yellow indeed. I hope you got tons done in the garden!

  16. Les, I think I have the most checked winter jasmine ever. I have gone to look at it at least once a day for the past week to check for flowers. Nothing yet, you really are ahead of us. One of the best ways to grow it is cascading down a wall. Carolyn

  17. I knew of Mr. Fortune because of he smuggled Camellia sinensis out of China!

  18. I love to see this massed together. It certainly lifts one's spirits out of the winter doldrums.

  19. Randy,
    I call this plant Faux Forsythia, as the two are often confused.

    Today the high will barely reach 50, oh well.

    It has not exploded so much here, but has been trying to open for week, only to be met with cold weather.

    The city fathers and mothers are trying to determine what is to be done with Waterside. There is not much going on there right now since the rest of downtown has revitalized.

    In all things horticultural, trust the Orband.

    I think yellow is one of goods favorite colors, after green and sky blue.

    I think they look better in groups.

    I agree. Unfortunately we planted a patch at work right under one of our main signs and it has to be trimmed yearly to keep it lower.

    Yes it does make that spot much nicer than most parking garages.

    Maybe you could move it to a sunnier area. They are quite tolerant.

    Thanks for stopping by. Yes they go a long way to making the best of a bad situation.

    Indeed it is.

    I have seen my share of yellow snow this winter as well, which makes me appreciate these blooms that much more.

    I did not realize you were proposing a rating system, I thought just random numbers. Anyway, you are a 10!

    I sure did, mainly cleaning and clearing. A lot of pruning took place as well, it looks like the butcher of Norfolk lives here.

    I agree, it definately looks better cascading. Don't forget that old adage about watched pots.

    He was quite the ballsy horticulturist.

    It's like a tonic.


  20. Ha ha well put, will have to share that with him!