Coronilla is a grey-leaved, low-growing shrub that, given a warm, sheltered spot, produces perfect pale-lemon, pea-shaped flower clusters in rounded heads. When given a blast of wintry sunshine they produce a sweet narcissi fragrance more reminiscent of spring that can brighten up the dreariest of winter days.
Coronilla valentina is an evergreen member of the pea family that has vetch-like leaves and a spidery growth habit. The flowers are born on short stalks in a rounded umbel-shaped head, which forms a crown – probably where it gets its name from. It was introduced to Britain during the reign of Elizabeth I, as were many other Mediterranean plants. In Victorian times, it was often grown in cool greenhouses and used as a fragrant cut flower.
Well-drained, sunny positions are the key to success with most Mediterranean natives. They are, like lavender, not always the hardiest of plants and have a tendency to lose vigour and become woody and straggly after a few years. Young cuttings should be taken to replace older plants to keep them thriving year after year in the garden. Although they may be considered high maintenance, I think they are worth a shot as they light up any garden scheme in the dark winter months.
There are several forms, but Coronilla valentina subsp. glauca ‘Citrina’ – a soft mixture of grey-green leaf and light lemon flowers – is the most desirable. The lower half of each flower (the keel) is a deeper shade than the paler upright standard above, adding a velvety richness.
I always think the best place to plant this fantastic little shrub would be close to the house, where it can be enjoyed throughout the winter months. It works better in a more structured scheme rather than included in a mixed or herbaceous border, planting amongst herbs like lavender, rosemary, sage and oregano seem to provide the perfect partnership for this fantastic little plant.motilium suspension price