I love when people get fooled in the garden. In spring as people get to the center of the English portion of the Conservatory Garden they get a whiff of something sweet in the air and you can begin to see them look around. They look up at the massive crabapple to see it is just barely breaking bud, with no flower yet in sight. They get on their knees and sniff the first few patches of daffodils, but 'Peeping Tom' and 'Jet Fire' aren't giving anything away. They don't see that right in front of them the whole time is this prickly evergreen hedge that happens to have clusters of little yellow flowers. This is winter barberry, and thanks to a serious renovation of this hedge that my coworker Earl Munroe and I took on last year it is doing tremendously, and about to bloom it's head off.
It is a barberry so you want to beware, and this species has some major thorns to boot, but when it blooms in spring and that smell overtakes your senses, yeah, it'll make you turn around a couple times. Near our apartment there are some planted out front of a big, ugly commercial business and the smell the other day during my afternoon run was simply stunning. Not to mention you will see the bees will be in love too.