Lookin’ Good and Smellin’ Better

   Written by on May 19, 2016 at 11:16 am

logo - walk in gardenLast week, someone gave me a small calycanthus floridus, or Carolina allspice, or what my Grandma called a Sweet Betty bush.  I’m afraid I may have jinxed its survival however; I thanked him for it before I thought. I was very anxious to try one of these shrubs in my yard, adding to the list of plants that I remember from childhood.

Hopefully, it will forgive me and grow to provide that sweet, spicy fragrance in the yard that I so fondly remember.

Since it is planting time, consider the list of fragrant flowers and shrubs that grow well in this area.  I hope you had a chance to come within a few steps of a wisteria this spring. The blooms are almost gone now, but that is one of the most fragrant plants there is. It will grow in almost any soil as long as it doesn’t get too dry, and will run right up an adjacent tree if allowed, giving its best show.  Most all wisteria species have showy flowers, but must reach a slow maturity before blooming.

While cursed for its troublesome habit of choking and tangling anything it comes in contact with, honeysuckle should be valued for its fragrance.  Hot summer night, lightning bugs blinking in the grass, all’s quiet and still, and that one little waft of air brings the smell of honeysuckle to the porch. Take a deep breath, swat that mosquito, and be glad you live in the South.

Sweet alyssum is probably one of the most satisfying fragrant little plants you could grow. Clusters of tiny flowers, usually white but some in shades of pink, are long­ blooming in a border arrangement. Best started indoors, and set out in mid-April these 4- to-10-inch-tall plants will flower freely till late summer. It can be grown by a beginning gardener with assurance of success, being equally at home in beds or pots. Grown in a window box, they will share their fragrance throughout your home when the window’s open.

One method of achieving a fragrant garden is to line a path with sweet herbs that sort of creep over the surface of the soil.  Thyme emits a delightful fragrance when stepped on, or mint that is brushed in passing, both easy to grow. Plant lemon verbena where you can just reach out to crush a leaf to smell its citrusy aroma.

And what would a scent garden be without lilacs? It’s one of our best-loved shrubs, often seen in the country marking the site of a former dwelling. They are a good-natured plant, tolerant of most conditions, but thriving in rich, well-drained soil, in an open situation. Blooms range from pure white to lavender and deep rose, but when added to your landscape, they all say “home.”

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