Thursday, August 23, 2007

Garden Scents

Garden fragrances! Smells hold memories. I recall putting on a carnation for some occasion, leaning my head down to have a sniff, and being *snap* back over a decade at my highschool prom. (That would be nearly three decades, now.)

I can at any time recall the strange smell of red monarda (beebalms) in the hot July sun (possibly from spending so much time plucking Japanese beetles).

The smell of geraniums, while picking off spent flower heads or yellowed leaves. The smell of marigolds, or nasturtium blossoms. These are earthy fragrances - like portabello mushrooms. Nasturtiums and marigolds were brought to America to be smelled and eaten.

I remember strolling down NY country roads in June, to an embankment where wild strawberries grew. On the way I would pick one wild rose - the pink one called Rosa carolina - and walk along sniffing the sweet perfume. Girls wearing this scent held my attention in early teen years, perhaps as a consequence of those moments in the golden evening light. I would return with strawberry stained finger tips, the smell of the berries mingling with the rose as I continued to sniff my way back home.

As a family we have wandered in large rose gardens, seeing which of us can smell which roses - not everyone smells everything equally well. Moomin Light and I smell some roses in common, and others totally separately. Our kids are spread out over the rose scent spectrum, as well. Since many fragrances are caused by our neurological response to complex chemicals called esters, it's not surprising to me that we don't all pick up the same ones.

There is the haunting smell of a daphnia bush, caught from the other side of a pond. It took us nearly ten minutes one day in Duke Gardens to locate the source.

When we moved to this house we planted several large Lonicera fragrantissima ("the MOST fragrant") as an evergreen screen between lots, AND for the honeysuckle sweet scent.

Finally, how about something exotic and bizarre - like the numerous Victorian geraniums with scented leaves (I've sampled mint, peach, strawberry, amaretto, and even chocolate scented ones) or the recently popular pineapple sage? Just one more pleasure of gardening.

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