The smells of spring are on the way
Published 9:00 am Sunday, March 29, 2015
Serendipity Gardens by Carol Hegel Lang
Breathing in the smells of spring when the gentle and warm rain is falling has always been a favorite part of spring to me. You can smell the cleansing of the earth as it rejuvenates everything around it. Neltje Blanchan wrote this of spring: “Can you describe the fragrance of the very breath of spring?” I think everyone has their own version of what spring smells like and what their favorite smell or memory is of spring.
As a child I would sit on the swing next to my mother’s garden and just breathe in the smell of roses from the beautiful old-fashioned rose that grew on the side of her garden. It was such a heavenly, sweet smell that just grabbed your senses and made you want to get closer to really get a good whiff of it. Or just down the street where a lilac hedge gave off such a rich fragrance you knew you wanted to pick a bouquet for the house.
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In my front garden I grow a Miss Kim lilac that is very fragrant and the bush is always covered in blooms for me to enjoy not only outside but for a small bouquet on the kitchen table. When the weeping cherry tree blooms and the ‘Diablo’ ninebark, there is an abundance of fragrance. Both of them will be covered with bees drinking in the nectar.
Just down the street from us is a tall and slender tree that I have no idea what it is but you can smell those blooms clear down to my house which is three yards away. It is so very fragrant. On the other end of the block is a catalpa tree that my granddaughter always loved to pick up the blooms that fell on the ground and we would put them in a small dish to float and spread their lovely aroma throughout the room.
For many years I have grown David Austin English roses and it makes me sad that they don’t make good cut flowers because I love their heady fragrance and would love to bring the smell in the house to enjoy. The last one that I have growing is Heritage a lovely pale pink cupped rose. The fragrance is described as, “overtones of fruit, honey and carnation on a myrrh background.” This rose has been in my garden for about 15 years and it always amazes me every spring when I see new growth on it as I do not give it any winter protection.
As a child, lily of the valley was a flower we always picked to put in a bouquet for my mother and she always loved the fragrance it had. When I first started gardening I added it to a very small raised bed and within a couple of years it had completely taken over this garden and so I ended up taking it out and I have to say that I really miss them.
Fragrance plays a very important role when choosing plants to add to your garden and you always want the most fragrant plants where you can easily enjoy them. Perhaps next to your house or a bench where you can sit and enjoy them frequently. Old-fashioned sweet peas have the most gorgeous scents and Old Spice is described as sharing the honey and orange blossom fragrance of the original Sicilian variety. This year I am adding some of these gems to my gardens again.
One of the most fragrant container plants that I use is alyssum with its honey scent that attracts bees. No matter where I have this planted I can smell it as soon as I walk by it and I always stop to take in the lovely smell it provides. Another smell that draws my attention is good old common milkweed. Once it starts blooming it will perfume the entire garden another good reason to plant it and it is the host plant for the monarch butterfly. What are some of your favorite plants to add fragrance to the garden or memories of days gone by?
“Some old-fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat.” — Laura Ingalls Wilder
Carol Hegel Lang is a green thumb residing in Albert Lea. Her column appears weekly. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.