Sunday, May 21, 2006

hummingbird feeder : Sweet smells of success

Fragrant flowers add to garden pleasure

Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 05/18/06


Spring is so fragrant! Walk into the Philadelphia Flower Show in early March and the scent of spring hyacinths tells you that spring can't be far away. Daphne leads into spring with its sweet fragrance later that month. Now we anticipate blooming peonies.

The old-fashioned Carolina sweet shrub yields its funny little maroon flowers that Grandma would carry in her hankerchief to enjoy the spicy fragrance.

Of course, there are wonderfully fragrant flowers through the year. Even in winter, the winter-flowering jasmine gives some fragrance.

Asked what her favorite fragrant flowers are, Ottilie Kossack, Dover Township, replied, "Roses, but I recently moved and only have a little garden with shrubs. I want to interplant with perennials. Last year the shrubs crowded them out." I suggested she might use phlox. They are fragrant and attract hummingbirds. "That's a good idea. We went to Garden Week in Virginia and I just bought a hummingbird feeder there," she said.

Joyce Chappell, who gardens in Holmdel, has lots of fragrance in spring. "I have lily-of-the-valley, both pink and white; a dwarf lilac and peonies," she said. Later in the season her garden gives the sweet fragrance of Kaleidoscope mountain laurel, Magnolia grandiflora and cherry laurel.

Among Jean Huesmann's favorites in her Bay Head garden are lavender, rosemary, lilies and lilacs. "I didn't find the Arnold Promise witch hazel you suggested, but I got a lovely Red Imp that flowers in February. And the daphne has a strong, sweet smell," she said.

Many of the deciduous azaleas are sweetly fragrant. The natives and their hybrids thrive in part shade; some of the Exbury hybrids will yield their wonderful fragrance in full sun.

Beginning bloom about the same time as the peonies, sweet bay magnolia vies for prominence with strong, sweet fragrance from its waxy white blooms. Give this native of our swamps a place with high moisture content. I grew mine over a dry well that received the rain from the roof gutters. It grows to about 20 feet. Its cousin, the southern magnolia, with its big waxy leaves, has a lemony fragrance. Where a very large tree would be out of scale, Little Gem would be appropriate. This blooms over several weeks in summer. There are several Daphne species that can give a long season of fragrance. February daphne leads the parade followed by D. odora with its pinkish to white flowers that can be had with the waxy green leaves edged in gold. After that, D. genkwa with lilac-colored bloom covering the bare branches before the deciduous leaves emerge just finishes as Carol Mackie with small, evergreen-variegated leaves and smaller flower clusters finishes the season in May to early June.

Roses follow the peonies. Not all have a fine fragrance so it is well to sniff before you buy. Rose fragrances are classified as tea, spice and sweet. The purple varieties seem to have the strongest fragrance and classic Peace has but a wisp.

The last fall-flowering fragrant plant to flower in my garden is lemon verbena. The foliage has a strong lemony scent and is delicious in iced tea. Tubular, bright red flowers come in fall in time for the hummingbirds to feed before their long flight back south.

When we built our house in Sea Girt the lot across the street was vacant and covered with sassafras and wild Japanese honeysuckle. The fragrance was wonderful, but short lived. It was cleared and a home built there after two years.

From Abelia to Zenobia, there are hundreds of sweet-smelling flowers and foliage coming from tall shade trees through shrubs, herbaceous plants and groundcovers. They may be annual, perennial or biennial. They can be incorporated in the overall landscape design, in beds or borders or in special herb gardens.

To me, fragrance is as important in the garden as color.


Blogger google nut said...

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