From the NW Flower & Garden Festival to Great Plant Picks, fragrance takes center stage

Susan Howell

OUR Sense OF Scent is exclusive, evocative and sometimes intoxicating, like when you bury your nose in a heavily scented rose on a warm summer season working day. Fragrance may well be invisible, but it is a compelling and delightful dimension to gardening, and not just in summer months.

Proper now, outside in the winter season backyard garden, chilly breezes carry the spicy scent of pink dawn viburnum and the nose-twitching aroma of witch hazel. Relying on the climate, in a handful of months, the winter daphne will commence blooming — even a little sprig of the pink and white flowers will flood a room with its heady fragrance.

Downtown at the Seattle Conference Middle this week, courtesy of the Northwest Flower & Back garden Festival, February smells like sweet soil and hyacinths, an olfactory illusion that launches us forward in time.

Fragrance is slippery it’s an ephemeral and difficult subject to pin down. Personal preference and physiology determine how we each individual understand scent. Further more complicating issues, it is practically impossible to explain a fragrance devoid of redundant looping: A rose smells like a rose.

In the late 1800s, the fragrance industry relied on fragrance taxonomists, specialists who organized scents into groups that referenced the organic environment, a common foundation that most folks could relate to. In 1983, a further qualified, Michael Edwards, more demystified fragrance by producing “the fragrance wheel” to illustrate how family members of fragrances interact with each and every other.

Edwards’ process is dependent on beforehand established scent groups — Floral, Fresh new, Spicy and Woodsy — further divided into subsets that clearly show a progression of related fragrances ranging from fruity to floral to spicy to warm wooden, shifting to mossy wooden and on to citrus and other refreshing green scents. Photo a colour wheel, a acquainted system utilized to depict the connection concerning numerous hues, only for scent.

As with colour, our notion of fragrance is enlarged and improved by the words we use to determine it. Descriptive language doesn’t just offer pricey scents at the fragrance counter it lodges in our memory, establishes particular associations and assists us distinguish nuance.

Point out the smell of newly mowed garden, and in turn you are going to probable get a collective sigh of satisfying nostalgia — not for mowing the garden, but for that enveloping environmentally friendly fragrance that calls up lazy times and summertime getaway. Maybe the opposite of the onerous chore that established the scent.

THIS YEAR’S Concept for the Excellent Crops Picks collection system is “Scent-sational Vegetation,” a gardener’s tutorial via the earth of botanical fragrance. In 2014, when GPP to start with showcased scented plants, options were being classified by the four classic scent profiles by now described. This year’s listing builds on these definitions and explores the opportunity of combining scents from more than a person group to create a mix that is exceptional to your garden.

As executive director of the Elisabeth C. Miller Botanical Garden, Richie Steffen oversees the GPP educational system, which began in 2001. “Looking at gardens, we tend to focus on the visible,” he states. “Even when we do imagine about fragrance, we assume about it in a quite flat way — like merely including a row of fragrant roses to the back garden.” Steffen, alongside with all the GPP collection committee members, wants to grow our being familiar with of gardening with scent.

Fragrance is dynamic. Together with sight, contact and style, odor provides a further sensual dimension to back garden-producing. Layering backyard garden fragrances by choosing plants with overlapping bloom or scented foliage makes exceptional perceptions that change more than time based on the season or even the time of working day.

Steffen, a knowledgeable and passionate gardener, rhapsodizes about one of his preferred times in the drop backyard: when the apricot-scented blooms of tea olive (Osmanthus x fortunei) combine with the brown sugar aroma introduced by the katsura (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) as their leaves fall. The sum of the two fragrances is each passing and a lot more complicated than either scent on its individual. “I like all those short, amazing moments that get me out into the garden,” Steffen suggests. The exact could be stated of that fleeting period of time in spring when citrus-scented magnolias are flowering. Just one excellent rain or stiff wind, and the present, each bloom and fragrance, is about until finally next 12 months.

For most of us, sight is our dominant feeling in the backyard, and we’ll most likely continue to target on generating pleasing plant combos based on coloration, form and contrast. But we can greatly enhance our plantings by orchestrating fragrance activities.

HERE’S A Straightforward considered experiment: Picture strolling by way of a summertime yard and catching the perfume of a strongly scented rose. An underplanting of lavender, rosemary or catmint, crops that launch their fragrance at the slightest contact, situated alongside the pathway where by you are probable to brush in opposition to their foliage, provides a resinous whiff to the sweet floral aroma of the rose. Sturdy floor addresses, like Corsican mint, chamomile and creeping thyme, include natural notes to the aromatic blend with every footstep.

Visualize the alternatives.

Flower fragrances are only the beginning. Foliage, bark and branches all lend aroma and refined nuance to plantings. Steffen indicates brightening a combination of decorative salvias or Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia), crops whose leaves scent strongly of sage, with a plant whose bouquets have citrus notes, like our indigenous mock orange (Philadelphus spp.). “It’s like introducing a squeeze of lemon over a roast rooster,” Steffen observes. Flavor and fragrance are carefully relevant. According to the GPP internet site, Philadelphus ‘Belle Etoile’ is a hybrid with outstanding fragrance, a extended flowering period of time and a far more compact increasing practice than other mock oranges.

Fragrance exhaustion is genuine. Scented plants with a long bloom season can overstay their welcome. “It’s tempting to want to plant anything seriously aromatic, like sweetbox (Sarcococca spp.), correct by the entrance doorway so you capture the scent each and every time you arrive and go, but you may get drained of the scent by the stop of winter,” Steffen cautions. “Instead, I like the idea of placing a Sasanqua camellia around an entryway.” Camellia sasanqua ‘Setsugekka’, a GPP variety, starts blooming in early November and carries on via January. Shiny evergreen foliage produces a remarkable foil to substantial, semidouble white blooms that have a mouth watering spicy scent. “The fragrance doesn’t permeate the air like sweetbox does you have to virtually embrace a Sasanqua to catch their beautiful scent,” he provides.

A number of Crops HAVE been added to this year’s GPP roster of aromatic plants. Indigenous throughout the U.S. and Canada, pink baneberry (Actaea rubra) is prized for the fireplace-motor crimson berries that ripen in late summer, but Steffen says the fragile white blossoms that look in spring have a rosy fragrance. The blooms on Magnolia x soulangeana ‘Rustica Rubra’ and M. ‘Vulcan’ both equally have a amazing citrusy scent, although Steffen details out that the rounded developing pattern of ‘Rustica Rubra’, an older cultivar, is a lot more conducive to sniffing, as the branches and blooms hold down inside access. “Vulcan magnolia has an upright progress behavior, so inevitably the flowers are going to be out of get to,” he notes.

Then there are all those fragrances that are, very pretty much, in your encounter, like lilies. ‘Scheherazade’ is an orienpet, a hybrid trumpet and Oriental lily, that towers to virtually 8 toes in the backyard garden, spilling its powerful fragrance in late summer months. An additional lily, ‘Silk Road’, is powerfully fragrant but stands at a additional demure 6 feet tall.

The blooms of Eternal Fragrance daphne (Daphne ´ transatlantica ‘Blafra’ Eternal FRAGRANCE™) emit an engaging scent starting in spring and carrying on into summer. Steffen suggests Everlasting Fragrance for gardeners who haven’t had much luck growing other daphnes. Sweetly scented white blooms blushed with pink get started flowering in late April and proceed to a lesser but no significantly less fragrant diploma all summer season. Not like most daphnes that want partial shade and can be fussy, Everlasting Fragrance can take comprehensive sunshine and doesn’t require pampering, delivered it has properly-drained soil. Steffens characterizes the fragrance as a spicier floral than that of winter daphne.

Back TO THE winter garden, the a single outside our home windows just now. Pink dawn viburnum (Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’) provides a ongoing show of shell-pink bouquets that tease the cold air with an incenselike scent. The show, both bouquets and fragrance, which begins in mid-November and continues into early April, is never extravagant. Sometimes, an Arctic freeze will blast all the open blossoms, but since the buds never bloom all at the exact time, another spherical of bouquets seems when temperatures normalize.

Dreaming up garden fragrance mixtures is an outstanding way to bide our time until finally spring. In addition to compiling a would like checklist of plants, get the job done on building your scent vocabulary and look at your satisfaction of the aromatic backyard garden prosper. You will discover the 2023 GPP poster for “Scent-sational Plants” on the inside entrance and again go over of this magazine. Pay a visit to for a lot more inspiration and escalating advice on hundreds of fantastic plants that prosper in maritime Pacific Northwest gardens.

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