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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
….blowing through the jasmine in my mind! (I can’t get the song out of my head, at the moment!)
This wonderful week of weather has had us appreciating a summer breeze – as I am at this very moment, enjoying an aperitif as the sun goes down, and the breeze rustles through the trees above. Bliss!
This is when a lot of scented plants come into their own, becoming stronger in the evening. Plant them close to a favourite evening seat, and it’s heaven! If backed by a warm brick wall and enclosed, as we are, even better!
Many of these are climbers, including our jasmine, Jasminum officinale, which grows over the pergola framing our dining area. No scent can be more heady than jasmine! It just whisks you off to exotic foreign climes!
But it does have a bit of help.
Against this brick wall, either side of the chiminea, grow two Trachelospermums. This one is Trachelospermum jasminoides, and is just coming into flower now. It is, as its name suggests, very similar scented to jasmine, though not quite so heavy. Its flowers are like tiny white propellers or whirligigs. The plant itself is an evergreen shrub. The Trachelospermum on the other side, is asiaticum, which is very similar, but with creamier flowers. I have found that it is not as floriferous as jasminoides. No flowers there, as yet.
Around the chiminea, we have pots of rosemary, thyme, lavender and scented pelargonium – all very Mediterranean, in keeping with the style of this courtyard area. As well as a new addition of a Myrtle, which I’ve been after for some time.
All we now need is the finishing touch of perfume, provided by the night scented stocks I’ve sown on the surface of each large, corner pot. Should be soon!
Elsewhere in the garden, I recently added two more scented shrubs to the mix.
Introducing Itea illicifolia! This evergreen wall shrub has tassels of honey scented blooms, which are now flowering. The books tell me honey, but I detect lemony top notes first, before it deepens to honey tones. I’ve planted this alongside a Garrya elliptica. They are similar in appearance and habit, both producing tassels. Garrya displays it’s long silver tassels at the start of the year, (sadly unscented!) so I’m hoping they will work well together.
Now we have a dark leaved elder, Sambucus nigra “Gerda”, which has beautiful dark, nearly black, foliage, and pink clusters of elder flowers in spring. I’m told they are lemon scented, but anyway, I love the smell of elderflowers! In fact I’m rather partial to the taste as well!
This has come about as a bit of an experiment, after a critical appraisal from my stepdad. He is a gardener of the old school – perfect lawns (preferably striped), plants in their allocated space standing to attention and everything pruned to within an inch of its life. I have to hide my secateurs! But he did make me re look at one part of my scented border. “Why were these shrubs spreading out at the front, leaving a big gap at the back? You should cut these out/get rid of them!” He had a point, but there was no way I was getting rid. Possibly the correct approach would be to dig them out and replant, but I didn’t have the heart! So hence the experiment. What could I plant at the back, in the gap, that would tolerate the shade and grow above the shrubs in front, and provide scent and interest? Well, elders naturally grow on the edges of woodlands, so I thought it worth a try! I’m keeping a watchful eye on it!
But for now, I’m back to my aperitif! The sound of the summer breeze through the trees, has been joined by the sound of the weekly church bell practice. It must be heaven!
Now, if I sit out a bit longer, I might be lucky enough to add a bat’s aerial display to the experience! That should cover all the senses! 🙂