Plant of the Week: Viburnum farreri

Just a collection of straggling bare branches carrying pom-poms of pink flowers: but what a fragrance! In fact dear Reg Farrer, its discoverer, named it Viburnum fragrans, and the name was only changed to his after he had died. He was a wonderful writer and plantsman who led an extraordinarily busy and tragi-comic life. This ended prematurely in the mountains of Burma where he tried to go plant-hunting alone. Previous expeditions had succeeded due to the calm presence of his trusty companion Bill Purdom, but in the end Farrer’s eccentricity and temper, or perhaps his unrequited love, proved too much for Bill, and he declined another trip. When Farrer expired, possibly from measles, his native bearers threw away his seed collection (and whisky) but brought back his diary and his watercolours.