Tag Archives: Scented shrubs

In the Bleak Midwinter?

Well, it did seem to be the case, sitting indoors listening to the rain, yet again, pattering against the window. Looking out at grey skies can really dampen the spirits. But then again, the view from the French windows, had to produce a glimmer of cheer.

The sight of Garrya elliptica’s beautiful long catkins, like icicles, led me to venture out with iPad in hand. Never mind the rain!

So glad I did!

I was heading right to the end of the garden (how brave!) to the Woodland garden, hoping to find the first signs of Spring there.

En route, I paused to take in the perfume of our Mahonia japonica – a sniff of early lily of the valley!

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Then on through the Allotment to revel in the sight of this year’s rhubarb poking through.

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And then reaching the Woodland, to discover all that I had hoped for!

What with snowdrops, perfume and the promise of joys to come, it’s not so bleak at all!

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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!

My Poor Little Homeless Babies!

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Poor little things! It’s not as if they’re unloved – far from it! Just one look, and I had to have them. And that’s the problem. The family is growing and must have a home.

Let me introduce you!
From left to right;

Escallonia “Iveyi”, Salvia “Senation Deep Rose”, Drimys lanceolata, Caryopteris clandonensis “Dark Knight”, Helwingia chinensis, Cestrum parqui, Pittosporum tobira, with a tiny hellebore seedling at the front.

Things appear uneventful on The Long Garden Path over recent weeks, with not much to report or write about, other than broken fence panels, which is of little interest to anyone. Activity levels outside have been far too low, with either the wind or incessant rain beating me, sending me scurrying indoors to the welcome warmth.

There have been some pleasures on the “walks round the estate”.

Winter scent, in the form of Clematis armandii ” Apple Blossom”

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and various Sarcococcas,

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and the early spring beauty in the Woodland.

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But the little grey cells have not hibernated. Indeed, they are working well, if nothing else is. They have long been pondering the problem. And so, now, there is an overhaul in the pipeline.
I think I’ve already mentioned tweeking the cottage border and adding in or moving, scented shrubs, which, hopefully will do better in a sunnier border. And now the “walks” have clarified where each will live.

Of course, this mental exercise has had a knock on effect, which will impinge on both the existing shrub border, and the Woodland. Will I ever resist moving my poor plants about and let them be?

The little grey cells have also pondered the Allotment, and improvements that can be made there. They have persuaded us to add two new raised beds – one for veg. and another one for more strawberries. You can never have too many strawberries!

So I have been shopping. A start has been made. Seeds have been bought and started off, and compost and soil improver stocked up on. Now all we need is some dry and, hopefully, warmer weather, to leap into action! (Or at least creep!)

Oh, but before I get carried away with excitement, I just have to go back to the aforementioned fence panels. None of this can sensibly be done till they are repaired!

Such is a gardener’s life!

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!