It all started earlier on in the year at one of PLANT’s socially distancing seed swaps and I somehow landed up with a packet of night stock, (Matthiola longipetala). I had never grown the plant before, so into a pot the seeds went and what a sensory delight it turned out to be. Its peak fragrance was at twilight when its bubble gum sweetness infused the delicate, white star like flowers. During the day the petals stayed firmly shut but just as the light began to fade, they opened beautifully. This flower is an annual so I will have to plant the seeds again next year.
The night stock sent we on an olfactory tour of my garden and here are some of my favourite ‘smelly’ flowers: – Honeysuckle, (Lonicera periclymenum). Its heady perfume is a real favourite of mine. It is hugely valuable to wildlife, supporting several species of butterflies and bees and its berries provide food for birds. Traditionally, it brings good luck and keeps evil spirits away which is why I’ve always grown it in the gardens I’ve had!
Jasmine, a member of the Olive family, is another much-loved plant of mine whether it is the cheery yellow winter variety, (Jasminum nudiflorum) or the tiny white summer one (Trachelospermum jasminoides). And it’s not just the smell, Jasmine tea, I find, is deliciously refreshing.
No garden is complete, in my opinion, without lavender, (Lavandula angustifolia). It is easy to grow and although it prefers a sunny spot will survive in most soils. It is such an attraction for bees. It doesn’t matter what time of day I pass my lavender bush it always seems to be full of buzzing. You’re supposed to harvest the flowers in the morning when the oils are most concentrated and then hang the long stems for a few weeks in a dark place. I’m not always that patient and often grab a handful of flowers and put them straight under my pillow for a good night’s sleep.
Sweet peas, ah, summer is just not complete for me without my vases being full of their colourful, zesty bouquets. Ok, they are a faff to plant and look after but they are so worth the effort. This year I grew mine up willow tee-pees I proudly made myself at a previous PLANT willow weaving workshop. Oh, the smug satisfaction until they blew down in September. Fortunately, most of the peas had finished flowering by then. Picked in the morning the blooms are at their most aromatic.
And finally, what is the point of a rose if it doesn’t have that musky, heady, romantic, rose smell? We grow, The Ancient Mariner and Gertrude Jekyll, both of which give off a rich, warm, fruity, scent. I usually pick the petals and dry them for potpourri, so over the winter I still have a little of the joy of my garden in the house. I’m sure I’ve missed lots of flowers from this list and I haven’t even touched on the wonderful smelly herbs.