Friday, 27 July 2012

The Scented Garden - Philadelphus

In the last of my mini-series of posts on the Scented Garden in Summer I am focusing on Philadelphus (Mock Orange).  Out of all the plants that I have mentioned previously this is the most highly scented - you can practically smell it wherever you are in the garden, and it is a 'must-have' plant for the quintessential cottage garden.

Philadelphus - Belle Etoile

They are named 'Mock Orange' in reference to their flowers, which in the wild species, look somewhat similar to those of oranges and lemons and smell of orange flowers and jasmine.  It is named after an ancient Greek king of Egypt -  Ptolemy II Philadelphus.

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 The one in the Rosebank garden is about ten feet high and has arching branches full of flowers - it has been in flower for several weeks and smells divine.  After is has finished flowering I will prune it back to encourage it to flower next year
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pruning out all of the stems that have flowered to about a third of their length and take out a few of the old stems right down to the ground - this will encourage the plant to send out new basal growth which will provide a good flowering branch framework - well worth the trouble if you love this plant as much as I do.

I know there are loads of scented plants that I haven't mentioned but the ones that I have are the most prominent in my garden - and certainly it wouldn't be the same for me without their beautiful fragrance.

Friday, 20 July 2012

The Scented Garden - Honeysuckle

There are about 180 species of honeysuckle, 100 of which occur in China.  Many of the species produce a sweet edible nectar.  The breaking of the honeysuckle stem will release this powerful sweet odour.

Surely this is the best known of cottage garden climbers.  Well loved for its sweetly fragrant tubular flowers, this classic climbing honeysuckle is ideal for covering walls and fences, or romping through mature shrubs and trees.  Bees and butterflies love the nectar rich flowers, which are followed by round red berries that attract birds in late summer.

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I have this one twining through the ivy on the front of the house - the common name for it is Woodbine but the genus Lonicera is named in honour of Adamus Lonicerus (or Adam Lonicer) who was a German Renaissance Botanist whose first important work on herbs, the Krauterbuck was published in 1557.

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Adam Lonicer
The blossom of the Wild Woodbine can be collected to make Honeysuckle Jelly (see recipe here)

There was an old Music Hall song written about Honeysuckle in 1901 called The Honeysuckle and the Bee.

Honeysuckle is an important source for nectar loving insects and the smell of wild honeysuckle is intoxicating, especially on a warm summers evening when it is pollinated by night flying moths.

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Monty Don says:-
One of the greatest joys of living in the British countryside at this time of year is the heady tangle of fragrances along country lanes flanked by hedgerows. We gardeners carefully cultivate plants for their scent but I like 'free' fragrances that suddenly enter one's world as much as any, and the best of these wild smells undoubtedly comes from the Honeysuckle which is found sprawling and creeping along the hedgerows for mile after fragrant mile. read more of this article here

Samuel Pepys wrote:-  "The bugles blow scent instead of sound" - he called it the trumpet flower.

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Friday, 13 July 2012

The Scented Garden - Sweet Peas and Old Fashioned Pinks

Who'd envy a sweet pea?  By rights they should reign over the choicest spot in the garden - looking and smelling as ravishing as they do - whereas more often than not you track them down to a row by the cabbage patch where they languish  in regimental splendour ready for cutting.  Though I think them lovely as cut flowers, my enthusiasm for sweet peas in the garden is boundless.  I grow them up everything - the climbing roses, the apple trees. (Felicity Bryan)

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You can of course wait until spring to sow your seeds in situ.  But that way you won't see flowers until high summer.  If, however you get sowing the first two weeks in October then you will have large plants to bed out in spring and with luck have flowers by early June (Felicity Bryan)

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This has been a good year for sweetpeas in our garden by the sea.  I picked my first bunch in early June, from plants sown in the greenhouse last October, and am still picking a couple of bunches a week from a mid-February sowing.  Their fabulous scent and colours - white, pink, crimson and maroon, and every shade of mauve from the palest lilac to blackberry ripple to indigo have been a delight all summer long.
(Elspeth Thompson)

Sweet Peas in the Rosebank garden August 2011
These are the sweet peas in the Rosebank garden last year - I had trouble with greenfly on them at one stage, but after spraying with an organic insect spray they recovered and went on flowering for weeks.  This year after a dodgy start they are at last beginning to climb but as yet have no flowers. 

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The flowers should be picked regularly or they will go to seed and stop flowering.  Normally I have bunches in the house all summer long - they have an enchanting fragrance and colours of jewel-like intensity - no gardener worth his salt should be without them.
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Sweet peas on tiptoe flight, With wings of gentle flush, o'er delicate white (Keats)

A garden full of sweet odours is a garden full of charm, a most precious kind of charm not to be implanted by mere skill in horticulture or power of purse, and which is beyond explaining.  It is born of sensitive and very personal preferences yet its appeal is almost universal (Louse Beebe Wilder)

The old-fashioned carnation name pinks comes from the serrated flower edges, which look as if cut with pinking shears. And the name of the color pink is said to come from these perennials, which have been popular in gardens for hundreds of years. The many dianthus species and hybrids come in red, white, orange, purple, cranberry, and of course, many shades of pink. Flower size ranges from less than an inch to several inches wide, and height ranges from just a few inches to several feet tall.

I only have one patch of pinks which have kept going for several years - they have, unfortunately, been beaten down by the rain and are laying flat, but it hasn't  affected their fragrance.  They are related to carnations and sweet williams and are perennial.
Mention old-fashioned pinks to anybody, gardener or non-gardener, and they will immediately know what you are talking about. They have an evocative quality about them that almost defies definition. They conjure up the hurly-burly of the cottage garden and yet at the same time have a serenity all of their own. The flowers have a delicacy and yet still have substance, while the perfume they possess can be quite heady; filling the warm summer's air with the scent of cloves. (Thompson and Morgan)

You have to agree that pinks are a must in the scented garden, although they seem not to be a common as they once were. 


Thursday, 5 July 2012

The Scented Garden - Roses

My Sweet Rose
John Wm. Waterhouse

The fragrance of the sweetest rose is beyond any other flower scent, it is irresistable, enthralling; you cannot leave it.  I have never doubted the rose has some compelling quality not shared by other flowers.  I do not know whether it comes from some inherent witchery of the plant, but it certainly exists. (Alice Morse Earl)

Rose - Zephyrine Drouhine

A single flow'r he sent me,
since we met,
All tenderly his messenger he chose;
Deep-hearted, pure, with scented dew still wet -
One perfect rose.
(Dorothy Parker)

Gather Ye Rosebuds while ye may
Old time is still a-flying
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying
John Wm. Waterhouse
Elusive, mysterious, the fragrance of roses and the romance surrounding it, is legendary.  Cleopatra supposedly entertained Mark Anthony in a room filled with 18 inches of rose petals, and the sails of her ship were soaked with rose water so that 'the very winds were lovesick'.

Rose - Albertine
Which is loveliest in a rose?
Its coy beauty when it is budding,
or its splendour when it blows?
(George Barlow)

In general, the most highly scented roses are the ones that are either darker in colour, have more petals to the flower, or have thick velvety petals.  Rose fragrance will be strongest on warm, sunny days when the soil is moist, because that is when the production of the scent ingredients increases.  Often a rose that was fragrant in the morning is no longer so by the afternoon.

Rose - name unknown
The rose looks fair,
but fairer we it deem for that
sweet odour
which doth in it live
(William Shakespeare - Sonnet 54)

As you can see from the pictures, all the scented roses in my garden are pink, and very similar in colour.  They are all highly fragrant and this is why I chose them.   What cottage garden would be complete without scented roses. 

Rose - Gertrude Jekyll
Though youth gave love and roses,
Age still leaves us friends and wine.
(Thomas More)