26 August 2008

The Fragrant Garden

I'm about to go off on an adventure, so I thought I'd post again before I start packing in earnest.

One of the most important parts of gardening for me is fragrance. You can regularly find me wandering around our garden savouring the scent of the roses, running my hands through the lavender or monarda or rosemary and sniffing happily. While not everything in our garden has fragrance by a long shot, we do have plenty that do. In fact, I will often forego varieties with no fragrance for those that have plenty.

What does heliotrope smell like to you? Cherry Pie? Cream Soda? Vanilla? Whatever the case, it's wonderful, and an ideal plant to put right beside walkways and doorsteps so that you can savour its fragrance regularly. This plant likes sun but doesn't like to dry out, so make sure you water it and deadhead it regularly to keep it flowering until frost.

Ah, the wonderfully and accurately named hummingbird mint is another of those plants I need to have. Its flowers and foliage have this delectable lemony minty fragrance, but it grows in a polite clump rather than running. I think it would overwinter outside if I didn't forget where I planted it. Usually I have it in containers, but this year I've put several plants into the ground and I will mark them to see if they make a return.

Here's one of those cases where I cheerfully hold to the oldfashioned roses rather than newer hybrids that might be pretty but not fragrant. I love my rugosas, even though they're thorny as all get out, many of them sucker quite generously, and some have leaves that turn pretty ugly by this time of year. All those things however are forgiven because the fragrance of the rugosas just makes me exquisitely happy. This is the common everyday 'Hansa', which is generous with its growing behaviours and heady of fragrance.

This is my favourite rose, hands down. Snow Pavement makes me deliriously happy. It flowers like a mad maniac with these lovely lavender tinged creamy flowers that smell like heaven must smell. The only thing about this variety is that the fog will cause the flowers to ball and turn brown, necessitating a big deadheading festival, but that also guarantees that it will promptly put up another flush of blooms.

Ah, bee balm. At last count, we have five or six varieties of monarda around our property, and I keep moving some of it around so that it will spread even more than it has. This is 'Raspberry Wine', which is approaching triffid-like status because it spreads wide and grows way tall, at least in my garden, where it's attempting to overwhelm the weed-beleaguered gardener.

Yummy tall phlox make me extremely happy too, with their brilliant colours and lovely spicy scent. I love this one for its bicolour foliage as much as for the flamingly bright flowers...

But this is 'David', my absolute favourite. I think it's one of the most fragrant, it grows into impressive clumps, I've not needed to stake it, and it's been oblivious to mildew--not that mildew is something I ever worry about anyway.

And this is currently the fragrant centre of my gardening universe, with 'David', 'Stargazer' oriental lily, globe thistles, Snow Pavement rose, and hummingbird mint and heliotrope (not seen in the photo) all combining to load the air with divine fragrances. Somehow, they all seem to work together very, very well.

This autumn and next spring I will be putting in more oriental lilies as well as trumpets and orienpets. Their fragrance is simply the best.

This is a daylily, Victorian Days, which has a pleasing fragrance and is just a lovely exotic colour combination. Our daylilies continue to flower like gangbusters, courtesy of the cooler weather, and they don't seem to care whether it rains or fogs or is sunny--they just perform like the stars they are.

As far as I know, this is the oriental lily Willeke Alberti, but I could be mistaken. Whatever it is, it smells simply glorious. Last year it was the last to flower (it was planted last spring) and produced only a couple of blossoms. It's gaining in enthusiasm, hugely, this year, with large flowers and quite a few of them.

And with that...I'm off to Kansas City, Missouri, on a bit of a break from what has been a challenging summer. While part of it is for work purposes (I'll be exploring such delights as Powell Gardens, some of the many public fountains of the city, and the reputedly awesome barbecue), I'll also be doing some highly fun stuff with some friends of mine, a few of whom are flying in from other parts of the US for a couple of events we're taking in on Friday and Saturday evening. This is a big step for me, who just got a passport, and maybe, just maybe, it'll mean that I'll get to Austin next spring, if there's a Spring Fling to be enjoyed.

I'll try to post while I'm in KC, but no promises. Reports when I get back, though.


  1. Have fun, jodi! By the David Cook in your labels for this post, let me guess ... you'll be seeing him perform! If that's the case, you'll be likely able to fly home without a plane!

    Look how tall your Monarda is!! Mine is short this year for some reason. But I love the lemony fragrance!

  2. Jodi,
    wonderful pictures..
    Have a good time and when you come back, we have wonderful fall weather.
    -Cheers Gisela

  3. Wonderful pictures as usual! I love the scents in my overwhelmed garden, too. Gotta check out Snow Pavement. Old roses make me happy, just by existing!

    Enjoy your wonderful weekend. As Kylee said, you'll be flying back without an airplane!

    Many happy thoughts to you for safe travels and fun adventures!

  4. I can almost smell the lilies through the computer monitor! mmmmmm...


  5. Have a good time while away Jodi. This post makes me want to get out and plant more fragrance in the garden. MMmmmm I can almost smell the roses.

  6. I love my David Phlox. It always gives a long bloom time and never, never has a spot of mildew.

    Enjoy your trip. Hope the heat and humidity don't get to you!

  7. Have a grand time away, I look forward to reading all about it.

  8. I hope you are in the thick of fun right now! Heliotrope smells different to me at different times of the day. Love it.

  9. One of the most delightful parts of photographing the garden is the scent ... a lovely post, Jodi. Have a safe and fun journey.

  10. The mondarda 'Raspberry Wine' is especially lovely; I've never seen that variety.
    Have fun on your trip and take lots of photos to share with us when you return.

  11. Fragrance is so important in the garden - good that you point it.
    Have a lot of fun and I hope you will come back refreshed I fulfilled.

  12. I only recently found out that a common name for heliotrope is "Cherry Pie" - but it definitely isn't evocative of pie to me. Vanilla, maybe... And my favorite scents (besides lavender) are the rugosas too - I haven't seen (sniffed) Snow Pavement. Looks like a must. Have a great trip!

  13. I have found better luck with heliotrope in planters than in the ground. Either way, when in bloom, it's a lovely flower. Loved your phlox photos - especially the white "David".

  14. Jodi, Thanks for all the helpful tips on fragrant flowers. I realized earlier this summer that I don't have a lot of fragrance in the garden, so I'll be taking some of your suggestions this fall and next spring.
    Wow, is that Monarda tall!

    Are you really going to see David Cook?? Have fun in KC!

  15. I love the bee balm (and the fact that you're peaking through it) -- and all your fragrant flowers look wonderful. Have a great trip!


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