Tag Archives: Garden scent

Scent in the Garden – On A Warm, Sunny Day

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At last! Tuesday brought some warm sunshine! And time to enjoy it and make good use of it!

As you know, I have been threatening some far reaching changes for some time now. Last week, the 25 year old ash tree, was finally felled, leaving a stump – and a mushroom! Along with that, the garden reshuffle has moved on from the “thinking about it” phase, to the “getting on with it” phase. So the warm, sunshine made for a perfect day to make some progress.

It wasn’t just the sunshine that made the hard slog such a pleasant experience, but also the adjacent Viburnum carlesii “Aurora” pumping out its perfume. The beautiful pink domes of flowers are quite plentiful this year, and so the scent of pinks kept wafting my way.

And while trudging up and down the garden, passing the Osmanthus delavayii rewarded me with another perfumed delight – this time more heady, like jasmine. The tiny, pure white trumpets, en masse, create a stunning effect against the dark green leaves.

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So I was distracted, and found myself, armed with my iPad, on a perfume hunt round the garden.

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Clematis armandii, which had opened its first buds shortly after we returned after New Year, has now reached its peak and is starting to go over. Its new shoots are waving around, threateningly, daring me to tie them in. Their soft perfume can be detected quite unexpectedly.

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Of course, true to form, the Coronilla in the front garden, was still blooming away happily. Such a pretty sight, with the lemon flowers set against its glaucous leaves.

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Here’s one I moved earlier! Elaeagnus umbellata was a victim of my reshuffle, moving from its cramped position snuggled up against a Philadelphus in the Scented Shrub border. Here, its delicate form will mingle with the perennials in what was originally the Medicinal herb bed, and its silvery leaves should provide a lovely backdrop to the bright pink blooms of Rosa gallica oficinallis (the “Apothecary’s rose”). Its tiny, powerfully scented flowers can still be spotted in the photo. And smelt in the garden!

So, as you can imagine, I didn’t achieve as much as I’d set out to do, but who cares! That’s what’s important about gardening – taking time to enjoy it, as well as to do it!

Oh, Dear! Never Mind!

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This just sums it up!

I must confess I have been struggling for inspiration both in gardening and blogging. I could blame a late holiday. I could blame six weeks of world class rugby for taking my interest. And I could blame decorating for taking my time. But that was many weeks ago. I don’t even think I can blame the usual Christmas panic. All is in hand for once. After deliberating this strange situation, I realise I must blame the weather. It has truly dampened my spirits – not to mention the garden.

I hate wind! More than any other weather episode! Apart from the arch, it has also blown down a fence panel and countless pots have been blown over and debris been scattered around the garden. Climbers have been torn from their supports. Everything is sodden. The garden is in a sorry state. And the truth of the matter is, that the newly decorated indoors is, just now, more appealing!😩

Don’t panic, though! This illness is acute, not chronic! And time is a healer!

Despite the minor destruction, there is still much of interest in the garden. My all important scent is still present, in the form of Mahonia japonica, Lonicera purpusii and Coronilla Citrina, with many more perfumed buds waiting in the wings – complete with new shoots! I’m already seeing signs of bulbs coming through, and hellebore flowers pushing their way through the damp soil. Festive red skimmia berries are so welcome! Even roses are still managing to bloom, as my last vase shows.

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This is when foliage plays its part. Especially grasses. They are not just for summer!

Hakonechloa macra

Hakonechloa macra

 

What a beautiful bright gold to brighten the gloom!

That said, I feel there is much room for improvement. Many of our shrubs are either overgrown, or underperforming. The domineering ash tree is, I’m sure, now having a detrimental effect. So a rethink is on the cards for the New year.

The tree must go, the surgeon has been appointed, and we are awaiting a date.
That will let in so much more light. I want to add loads of soil improver to the shrub borders, to improve the quality of the soil, probably quite malnourished. I want to look closely at the flower borders, and ruthlessly dispatch those that are not performing well. I’m well aware of the growing number of scented shrubs dotted around the garden, still in their original containers (if they haven’t been blown over!). I think I must follow my passion in redesigning these borders, shifting the emphasis towards these shrubs. Many, which are struggling planted on the shady side, may appreciate a move from the dark side. I must keep myself in check, though, and not be too hasty. Who knows what a difference a tree makes – or lack of it!

So, despite the grey skies and gloomy weather forecasts, there is much to look forward to next year. It’s quite exciting, really!

That’s what gardening does! 😀

Scent in the Garden – October

I’m afraid, there’s  not been much blooming in the garden this month to provide us with perfume.

There’s the last of the lavender.

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These lavenders, “Hidcote”, were planted earlier in the summer, in the sunny front garden. They’re settling in well and flowering nicely already. I love the dark purple flowers. They should be completed well by the paler Perovskia planted behind. The beauty of these two plants, is that they don’t need to flower to provide perfume. Like the lavender, Perovskia, too, has aromatic leaves.

And, of course, flowers don’t have the monopoly on scent. So many plants have scented, aromatic leaves and they provide the backbone to the scented garden. We all know the Mediterranean herbs well – Rosemary, sage, thyme and so on. Every well stocked garden should have these stalwarts, whether as decorative specimens, (just think of purple sage in a border!) or a as a dedicated herb garden. Brushing against the leaves gives a whiff of sunny climes!

At this time, when flowers are becoming more scarce, leaves are there to plug the gap. Apart from the obvious lavenders and herbs already mentioned, we have several other interesting plants who give us scent through their leaves. The Caryopteris, which has just stopped flowering, still has, for the moment, its aromatic foliage. Choisya ternata, Drymis and  Calycarpa are other shrubs that have scented leaves when rubbed. Did you know that, when crushed, Gaultheria procumbens (I know! It too, has had a name change! I think it’s now Pernettyia!) leaves smell of germolene? And that, when wet, the leaves of Rosa rubiginosa, the sweet briar rose, smells of apples?

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Oh, and there’s Cestrum parqui, but that’s not pleasant!

So all is not lost!

Autumn is all about foliage, mainly due to its myriad of colours.

Isn’t this gorgeous?

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This is Cercidiphyllum japonicum “Red Fox”, which have growing in a pot, under planted with the golden grass, Milium effusum, or Bowle’s golden grass, which complements this plants plum coloured foliage. But at this time of year its red leaves become a gorgeous mix of toffee shades. And that’s not all! The fallen leaves smell of candy Floss!

But, it has reached the time of year, where the scented flowering shrubs are heading towards their winter display.

Our wonderful Coronilla “Citrina” has started flowering again.

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I swear it can only have stopped flowering a couple of months ago!

Mahonia japonica’s racemes of lemon, perfumed flowers are just starting to open, and Viburnum farreri has its tiny “cotton wool” balls of pink, flowering too.

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Yes, summer is definitely gone and it’s all about winter now!

How’s your garden smelling this month? Do tell us!

And thank you to Wellywoman and Backlane Notebook, for starting this.

Scent in the Garden – August

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I do sense the height of summer is starting to fade. Daylight is shortening and the weather….well! This is when the cracks start to appear in my aim for year round performance from my scented shrub border.

As the last of the honey-scented buddleia flowers get browned off, and Clethra and Caryopteris are still to oblige us, Trachelospermum jasminoides is filling the gap. It opens its pure white blooms and pumps out its strong, heady perfume. Its cousin, Trachelospermum asiaticum, on its partner trellis, has decided not to bless us with flowers this year. Its creamy flowers are not so reliable or abundant as jasminoides.

All is not lost, though. The annuals and tender perennials are delivering what they promised.

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Mmm! My “Black Forest Gateau”!
The Chocolate Cosmos and cherry scented Heliotrope are growing away well, making a tasty-scented display at the back door. I’m sure you know what I mean! They have both performed so well. I do hope I can overwinter them, especially the Chocolate cosmos. I’ve never managed it yet.

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I wouldn’t want to have a summer without Night Scented Stocks! They bring back such precious memories of bygone holidays, immediately transporting me back to the Cotswolds. I have to admit they are not the most attractive of flowers. They have a tendency to have very soft, floppy stems (at least I’ve found that in our garden) and the tiny lilac-White blooms are so small and simple. They don’t even open properly until the evening, but when they do …..Wow! How can such a strong, vanilla perfume emanate from such a small, unassuming flower? It carries all round the garden on a warm evening, leaving the unaware wondering where the scent is coming from. I sow seeds every year in the top of the four large pots on each post of the pergola, that are home to its climbers. Its floppy habit cascades over the rims and they are in prime position for evenings outdoors.

In my search for perfume, elsewhere in the garden, I’ve started sniffing perennials! I’m sure it’s not illegal! Sometimes you can find scent in unexpected places.

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This is our native meadowsweet, or Filipendula, found wild in damp places, such as riverbanks. It is supposedly the original source of salicylic acid or aspirin. These wonderful candy floss flower heads have a soft, sweet perfume. So unlike aspirin!

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Phlox are well known for their perfumed flowers. This rich, deep purple one, “Nicky”, is at its peak, adding its contribution to the grass garden, alongside grasses and late-flowering perennials. It looks particularly good in combination with fennel.

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Good old fennel! Such a good plant! From its aniseed scented and flavoured feathery leaves, to its airy umbels of golden flowers, with spicy seeds, it performs on all levels. Too good for just the herb garden!

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Echinops ritro, or globe thistles, are loved by the bees, as you can see. But take a sniff and you might love them too! A soft perfume but lovely.

What I am missing is one of my favourite scented shrubs – Perovskia atriplicifolia. I have been growing it for many years, but now the back garden has become too shady for it to do so well. I have been waiting for the right time to replant some of the front garden. By that, I mean clearing the existing planting by the house, prior to it being repainted. That done, I should now have the perfect sunny spot to plant some new plants.

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I think they look so much better planted en masse, in groups of at least three.They then create a beautiful lilac haze at this time of year enhanced by their white stems. The scent comes from their tapered glaucous leaves, which smell, when rubbed, of sage, hence their other name of Russian Sage. Ok, somewhat titchy just now, but I’m hoping they will love their new position and romp away. I’ve planted them behind a row of aromatic lavender and I’m hoping for a lovely aromatic combo to welcome us home.

While out front, may I digress a bit? Eucalyptus does fall into the category of scented shrubs, I’m sure. But I do want to show you how beautifully it’s shedding its bark.

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We still have much to look forward to.

How’s your garden smelling? Please share it with us. I’m looking for suggestions for helping me to bridge the gap!

Thank you to Wellywoman and Backlane notebook, for coming up with the idea.
It’d be great if you could join in!

Scent in the Garden – May

Coronilla glauca "Citrina"

Coronilla glauca “Citrina”

Oh, dear! Here I go again, apologising for my lateness!
I’m blaming an unexpected heavy workload, but I’ve made sure it has not stopped me enjoying my garden, and all its perfume. And of course, there’s the unmissable Chelsea! I made sure I made time for that!

So now it’s time to show you my highlights for May.

I make no apologies for starting with an old, well covered favourite, Coronilla citrina. This started flowering last November, and it’s gone from strength to strength, now flowering better then ever! It’s lovely perfume still pervades the front garden.

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Our Akebia quinata, which started blooming last month, has gone on to make a marvellous, chocolatey display in both colour and scent. I do believe it’s the best it’s ever been! We have it growing in the Scented Shrub border as well, where it roams to its heart content, reaching dizzy, unattainable heights, but our second plant over the pergola is much more accessible for the nose! Thankfully!

The Scented Shrub Border has other delights to show.

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Abelia mosanensis is quite an unassuming plant, with tiny pinky-white trumpet flowers, that smell of clove pinks. It’s just starting to show its flowers now.

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Our unknown Rowan tree, already there when we arrived, is not out of place in the Scented Shrub border, by virtue of its huge, creamy white flower heads, not unlike elderflower, but smelling of hawthorn. You might love the smell, you might not! I love it – to me it’s the perfume of May!

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What better under planting to the Scented Shrub border than Lily-of-the-valley. It’s really doing well in the bottom corner, carpeting the ground under the Rose and Amelanchier. I don’t need to describe its perfume to you, I’m sure.

The scented shrubs are not confined to their own border. That’s just not big enough. They creep in elsewhere, too.

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In the Woodland garden, Fothergilla major is bravely showing its white bottlebrush flowers. Sadly, it’s still struggling from its recent move, and is in need of some TLC!

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Last month’s Clematis armandii has put on some new growth, which has already resulted in some new flowers, albeit smaller, less showy and, sadly, less scented!

Our cherished lilac display is somewhat disappointing this year. The white one in our front hedge has been over zealously pruned (not by myself, I hasten to add) resulting in a solitary bloom, while our lilac Lilac(!), in the Woodland garden is flowering its socks off – in the neighbours’ gardens! I’m having to make do with stolen pleasures, which have also been depleted this year. The overhanging branches, which gave us so much pleasure – and vases – has had to be severely cut back to accommodate our new shed – and to save our heads!

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But it’s not all about shrubs.

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Sweet cicely looks, and smells, lovely at this time. It looks so fitting for this time of year, resembling cow parsley, with its delicate, ferny foliage and white flower umbels, with a lovely delicate perfume. It wouldnt look out of place in a woodland or wild flower setting, but we grow it as part of our shadier herb garden. Its stalks can be used as a sweetener – good with rhubarb.

And it’s the start of the Bearded Iris season! So many of them have wonderful perfume from their magnificent blooms.

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This is my rogue Iris from last year. The nursery claimed it may be “Immorality”, but I’m not convinced. Anyway, it’s beautiful and with a lovely powdery perfume.

And that’s just the start! So many more buds to come, and not just the irises. Can’t wait till next month!

The whole garden just smells overwhelmingly of hawthorn. Where from, I do not know! Our native hedge and that of our neighbours have no sign of hawthorn flowers. It must be our Rowan tree!

How’s your garden smelling?

And thank you, Wellywoman and Backlane notebook for coming up with the idea!
Why not join in?

Scent in the Garden in March – For My 100th Post

Ypsilandra thibetica

Ypsilandra thibetica

I think it’s very fitting for me to be doing a post on scent in the garden, for my 100th post. After all, for me, it’s the highlight of my garden, and what governs my choices.

I’m joining in with Wellywoman’s meme on scent in the garden. I know I’m late with this – hope I’m not too late.

I must start with the hard to pronounce, and even harder to spell, Ypsilandra thibetica. The simple fact though, is that this looks and smells gorgeous! This perennial was introduced to me by a fellow blogger last year, and when Chloris described its violet tinged and violet scented flowers, I had to have it for my Scented Shrub border. I tracked it down at a nearby nursery, soon after, and since then, its clump of strappy, light green leaves has happily sat there, doing not much, till a few weeks ago when the flower buds started to form. You can imagine how excited I’ve been to experience its first flowering – at least for me. The white flower spikes, tinged with lilac, are like chunky bottle brushes! And it does have a lovely violet scent – although I do have to get down on my hands and knees to appreciate it! I hadn’t appreciated how good it would look nestled among the purple crocuses hidden from view when the Ypsilandra was planted.

Elsewhere, last month’s contributions are STILL going strong.

Mahonia japonica

Mahonia japonica

STILL pumping out its lovely, lily-of-the-valley perfume!
Lonicera fragrantissima

Lonicera fragrantissima

STILL producing even more of its delicious lemonade scented flowers!
Sarcococca humilis

Sarcococca humilis

STILL no change!
Chimonanthus praecox

Chimonanthus praecox

STILL hanging on, but fading now, both flowers and scent.
Coronilla glauca "Citrina"

Coronilla glauca “Citrina”

And STILL flowering as well as when it first started back in November.

I did fear there may not be much else new to show you.
Abeliophyllum distichum is just about flowering but the very tiny white flowers are very sparse and didn’t take kindly to photographing.

I realised the Daphne laureola had started flowering.

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The flowers are hard to spot, nestled under the plant’s dark, evergreen leaves, but they are worth looking for, with their lovely, lime-green flowers, with a delicate sweet scent.

The mini narcissus that had graced my eggcup, are looking lovely, spreading themselves about in the Woodland garden.

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These ones here, are, I think, “February Gold”.

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The ones that “Kingsley”‘s presiding over, are unknown, coming from a floral display and planted out.

But look what I almost missed!

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Look closely and you can just make out the remnants of Azara microphylla’s tiny yellow blooms. This was only planted last year, to replace one I lost, and hadn’t shown any signs of flowering – or so I thought! They were too small, too few and too low down to appreciate the vanilla “cake-like” perfume I happily remember from its predecessor.

And then, the most pleasant surprise!

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I planted Viola odorata as part of a decorative herb border, many years ago, and thought I had lost them. I thought they had been swamped out by a weedlike variety with no scent, but look what just popped up! Definitely Viola odorata – Mmm….!

I’ve enjoyed my 100 posts and have read and “met” many lovely people in the process! Thank you all!

How’s your garden smelling?

Scent in the Garden

Chimonanthus praecox

Chimonanthus praecox

I am joining in with Louise at Wellywoman and Sue at Backlane Notebook with their new meme about Scent in the Garden.

Well, I couldn’t really avoid it!

As anyone who follows my blog regularly will know, I have a passion for scent in the garden, especially scented shrubs and climbers. A scented shrub border was the first border we planted when we first moved here, over 20 years ago. It has been much modified since then and my shopping list shows no sign of diminishing. They are now spilling over into other planting areas in the garden – wherever is available!

The aim is to have scented shrubs in flower all through the year – a continuous feast for the nasal senses!

The winter months can be rich in scented shrubs, so many have obviously found their way into the border. That makes February a good month for me to start.

I think the most delightful one at the moment is Chimomanthus praecox, pictured at the top of the post. This year, after an enforced bit of pruning resulting in a poor display last year, it has come out this winter with its best display yet. Sheer heaven, it was today, trying to photograph it. Looking up into those tiny yellow bells, with their purple “stained glass” centres, dotted against a brilliant, clear blue sky, was breathtaking, but difficult to capture. A gentle breath of wind insisted in moving the stems just at the point of focussing, leading to several blurred images. But the compensation was the gorgeous, spicy perfume wafting down. I’ve never noticed it so strong before. Often, I had to bury my nose in the blooms to appreciate it.

Now, giving this a run for its money are the Sarcococcas or Christmas Box.

Sarcococca humilis

Sarcococca humilis

Sarcococca confusa

Sarcococca confusa

Sarcococca hookeriana digyna

Sarcococca hookeriana digyna

We have several different species in the garden. I just love them! Their delicious honey scent is so strong that it follows you round the garden, often catching you unawares. After all, the flowers are rather inconspicuous buried in the shiny, evergreen leaves. I think S. digyna has the prettiest flowers with their pink stalks. They are so easy to grow, and, being small and managable, they are easily slotted into any available space. We have two others – Sarcococca orientalis and Sarcococca ruscifolia – but, as they were only planted last year, they have yet to flower significantly.

We also have a couple of winter flowering honeysuckles.

Lonicera fragrantissima

Lonicera fragrantissima

The flowers have seemed a bit sparse this year but their delicate perfume – like lemonade! – may be my favourite (well, one of them!)

Lonicera purpusii

Lonicera purpusii

This one resides in our front garden hedge, so unfortunately, can get a bit overlooked. Shame, as its flowers have a lovely pink tinge.

Our Mahonia japonica is still going strong.

Mahonia japonica

Mahonia japonica

I thought these were the last of the blooms, but then I took a second look ….

Mahonia japonica

Mahonia japonica

….looks like it’s having a second wind, with what looks much like fresh new sprays just starting to open. And more lily-of-the-valley perfume!

Meanwhile, still going strong in the front garden, is the Coronilla citrina, which has featured in several of my vases since the end of last year.

Coronilla glauca "Citrina"

Coronilla glauca “Citrina”

It’s such a beauty, with its sweetly scented, lemon pea flowers and its pretty glaucous foliage.

Am I allowed to include my latest purchase, even though it’s still in its pot? Well, it’s in the garden and giving me pleasure! So, I think, yes!

Hamamellis mollis  "Imperialis"

Hamamellis mollis “Imperialis”

I’m determined to have a Hamamelis in the garden. What self respecting scented winter garden could be without one? This one I bought just last week, and it will survive! It has a really strong, heady scent with lemon, starry flowers.

But it’s not all about shrubs. This is the Snowdrop season – the time for all Galanthophiles, and so here is my scented offering of Galanthus “S. Arnott”….

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….both outdoors and in!

What perfumed delights do you have in your garden this month?