Thursday, July 5, 2012


I know it seems to be stating the blindingly obvious, but to me scent is one of the most important of our senses. And yet, it seems to be one of the least utilised within garden design. Scents are subtle, evocative things. Too much is so overpowering it can make us feel physically sick. Lavender in particular can do this; I know several people who have searing headaches if they release its perfume by crushing the leaves. Apparently this is becoming an increasing problem as lavendar is used more and more in 'natural' products such as soap, body lotions, washing powders etc. We ignore the potency of such natural oils and essences at our perils. But I diverge..... Scent brings back powerful memories, both good and bad. And planning for scent is perhaps a little more complex than most of us realise. There aer certain scents for certain times of the year; for certain times of the day and night; and for certain temperatures. All these elements affect the release of perfume from flowers, and to my mind a garden without scent is a garden without a soul. Certainly some of the scents that are the most lovely can come from the most unassuming shrubs imagineable. Winter flowering honeysuckle (Lonicera x purpusii)is a shrub that should be planted at the back of a border in all gardens. The lemony scent that is released in the winter sun is just glorious. It is deciduous, with largish leaves and an untidy habit - not pretty in summer, but worth planting for its winter scent. The other plant that I simply love is Elaegnus Ebbingei, a silvery leaved evergreen that produces small, insignificant white flowers in autumn and the most glorious scent. The flowers are so inconspicuous that it always catches me out, as I can never work out where the perfume, which is sweet and jasmine like, comes from. And then of course we have my favourite flower; the rose. A rose without perfume is a bit like eating a flavourless apple. Why would you bother? Chandos Beauty is a favourite with a heavy wonderful perfume that will scent a room. And I love its colour, creamy pink. Gorgeous. And at the moment, when walking down country lanes the perfume of honeysuckle pervades everywhere. Its heady scent brings back to me some of my happiest memories of time spent in the sun, in our glorious countryside. Think I am dreaming ..... well perhaps I was hallucinating, but I am sure that I did see something yellow in the sky today!

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