Since last October, I've participated in an online meeting with other gardeners on a roughly monthly basis to discuss selected garden books. Last week, we discussed The Scentual Garden: Exploring the World of Botanical Fragrance by Ken Druse. I'd recommended the book based mainly on its fabulous photographs; however, the general consensus was that it's a "coffee table book." Druse addressed the science of scent, how it can be captured and preserved, and how scented plants can be presented in a landscape but his central focus was on classification. I for one was disappointed there wasn't more emphasis on how to use fragrant plants in association and how to carry fragrance through the seasons. The book nonetheless spurred a lively discussion about how each of us respond to the scents in our own gardens, which fragrances we like and which we don't. That exchange emphasized points Druse made in the introductory section of his book: scent is in the "nose of the beholder" and, in many cases, how we feel about a scent depends a lot on the long-term memories associated with them.
I didn't set out to select plants for this week's "In a Vase on Monday" post based on scent but, as it turned out, I ended up with two arrangements this week each of which included stems of particularly pungent scented plants. The first arrangement was inspired by the Agapanthus just now beginning to bloom in my garden. If Agapanthus has a scent, my nose is incapable of detecting it but two of the other plants I included in the mix did register, one very strongly.
|My theme was color, not scent, based. I chose blue and white colored flowers. The scent was supplied by Salvia clevelandii 'Winnifred Gilman', another Salvia hybrid, and the minty foliage of Prostanthera ovalifolia 'Variegata'.
|Top view: The other elements had little or no noticeable scent
I should note that Druse is based in the northeastern part of the US. His book emphasizes the plants with which he's most familiar and there's relatively little overlap with the plants I grow in the Mediterranean climate of my coastal Southern California garden. The inspiration for my second arrangement this week was the Matilija poppies (Romneya coulteri) blooming on my back slope. This genus isn't mentioned in Druse's book. I can detect a only a light scent from the flowers but bees love the plant.
|The Matilija poppies established a color theme for this arrangement as well
|Top row: Abelia grandiflora 'Hopley's Variegated', Achillea 'Moonshine', and Alstroemeria 'Inca Sundance'
Middle row: Alstroemeria 'Claire' and Centranthus ruber albus
Bottom row: Romneya coulteri and Tagetes lemmonii
My husband is more sensitive to scent than I am. He's objected to the smell of Tagetes lemmonii in the past so I use it sparingly in arrangements. I can't remember if he's complained about Salvia clevelandii before but I personally find it a heavy scent so I'm waiting to see if he says anything. What scents do you prize in your garden? Are there scented plants you grow despite finding their fragrance objectionable?
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