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A Pain in the Olfactory....


By Lori


Recent comments on one of my pics, has lead me to think about the role of scent in the garden.
Do we garden as simply a feast for the eyes!?
My basic plans always include colour and a contrast or two…or a complement…height and foliage type…etc. etc. but I’ve always always tried to include scent as well …. and that means that one must be careful of sensitivities. Many plants quietly pollenate and unless we are sensitive to their pollen, we never know it…. while others mount mass advertising campaigns with aromas that can carry over distances.

Such is the case in point, of my Russian Olive, Elaeagnus augustifolia.
I first experienced RO, many years ago, and vowed that when I had my own garden it would be one of the plants I’d introduce. True to my word I found a small specimen (budget constraints) and planted it. I first put it in my front garden but decided at the beginning of it’s second season that it was growing too fast for the spot…so I moved it into the back garden in a darker corner…but sheltered from winds by the fence and the house. It never looked back. It’s reached it’s maximum and I’m going to have to do strategic pruning this spring to bring it back into line….but the best part of it all is the aroma of it’s spring blossoms…
The flowers are a lovely soft yellow. At first I thought it at odds with the silvery gray foliage…but it makes the tree look alight when it blooms…and the scent is wonderfully sweet. On breezy days it will scent the neighbourhood.
This brings me to the contraversy… Was I selfish not to consider the sensitivities of others when planting something I loved that spread it’s scent into other gardens in the neighbourhood?? I certainly enjoy the scent, but others do not… granted it’s for a very short time…but I also have made scent one of the main elements in my garden.. I’ve consciously selected plants whose scents cascade down the season…
Another shrubby tree that has wonderful scent is the Amur Maple…Acer ginalla.
I’ve planted my AM in the exact opposite corner of my back garden from the RO. When the AM blossoms the bees riot…that whole corner of the garden is abuzz…and smells wonderfully like lilac… I find it amusing to watch bemused visitors trying to find the lilac bush (I don’t have a lilac, YET)…
The AM blossom is tiny, lime green, and hidden among the new leaves. so here I pose another threat to the sensitive ….a strong scent and BEEs!
I also have the scents of early spring bulbs: tulips, daphs and narcissi, and
hyacinthes, but I’ve planted Peonies, lilies, roses, violets, acidanthera,crabapple….etc. etc….not only for their wonderful colour but for their scent as well! I also bought a lonicera…Dropmore
Scarlet…thinking “mmmm….honeysuckle!” and wouldn’t you know it…I didn’t check closely enough…that var. has no wonderful scent!! then there’s all the wonderful aromas of the herbs as well…The leaves of the Melissa, the mints, the geraniums, artemisia, chives, etc. all release their scent from leaves when disturbed or watered. . Gardening is a constant learning experience, I find!
So..I suppose that I shall have to post a warning on my garden gate…beware…strong scents and bees!
Given the pruning that’s in store for the RO this spring it probably won’t flower this coming season…but I’m going to keep it…and maybe take some of the prunings as heel cuttings.
Any suggestions for more scented beauties? I’m open for suggestions!

More blog posts by Lori

Previous post: The Legacy continues....

Next post: "I cannot stand the wait.... Hurry Spring!"



Enjoyed your blog & lovely photo's

25 Jan, 2009


Lovely blog Lori and great to see so much colour - a real treat.I have an evergreen honeysuckle with flowers similar to yours but no scent.

Think its called tellmanniana cant find a common name for it.

We love our lavenders which have great scent for us and bees love it , foxgloves and delphiniums attract them too but not sure if they suit your zone.

25 Jan, 2009


lovely flowers Lori ,enjoyed your blog!

25 Jan, 2009


Thankyou Clarice...
How could I forget the lavender?...good memory jog, BB. thanks... the lavender blooms at the same time as the second flush on my Rosa, Therese Bugnet they look beautiful together and the scent mixture is heavenly...Watering brings up scents too... the mints, the geraniums, the artemisia~ all have aromatic foliage! and when watered they smell heavenly too. New mown grass and clover smell sweet and summery...mmmmm....I have foxgloves, (have a small expanding clump under the maple in the front garden) and my delphs have been blooming spring and fall for the last two growing seasons!!
thanks Arlene!

25 Jan, 2009


Lori. I loved reading your blog.
I actually love the look of the Russian Olive and when it flowers....I just stay away from that area for a couple of weeks unless there is a bit of a wind to blow the scent away. Not a problem for me. Until I realised that the scent was a problem for me I was thinking of putting one or two in the back garden. I believe they root from cuttings fairly easily.
For the rest of my garden I too try to choose fragrant blooms or foliage. Don't forget Bergamot...I have plenty of that in my garden. I have a hardy geranium which has a lovely fragrance to its foliage. It was here when we bought the house so I don't know its name. Moss roses (even minis) have fragrant blooms and the mossing on the stems and buds very often has a strong balsam-like fragrance which can permeate the air in the heat.
I love your "la vie en rose". It is very beautiful. And I love it paired with the is a perfect foil for the shade of pink. :o)

25 Jan, 2009


Thanks for this great blog, Lori! I may not be familiar with some of the shrubs/trees, but you are right - we do need fragrance in the garden, too. Unfortunately we don't all share the same 'tastes' (ha ha) in scents. Can you believe that my daughter doesn't like sweet pea fragrance? And there's me planting the most fragrant varieties because I do!

There are some plants which have a strong scent - do you know Phuopsis stylosa? I can't take to that scent at all. Scented leaved Geraniums? No thanks, Gilli! I don't even like the smell of the ordinary ones!

25 Jan, 2009


hahaha...Gilli...I have to plead senility again...I completely forgot about the Bergamot....I have the Cambridge is wonderful hardy (native) stuff and it's a staple in my garden, too. I too have the perennial geranium, it has the most wonderful smelling leaves...a spicy woodsy resinous kinda smell...I just love it and it is not prevalent..I only smell it when I put water on them or weed around them...I really must find myself a moss rose...and the sage that grows with my mini rose, I forgot as well! And Spritz just mentioned sweet peas!! one of my all time fav's ... one of the best floral scents right up there with roses... I don't have the scented leaf geraniums tho', Spritz...they do well but they have been extremely popular in the last few years and as a result crazy expensive... I try to stay away from Speaking of frenzy around a release...have either of you seen the new var. of Annabelle Hydrangea called "Incrediball"? I just received my Dominion Seed House catalogue e/m with new releases in it...and they are selling it in 3-1/2" pots ONE PLANT (read cutting) for $18.69!! 3 for $50. Yikes! I actually knew it was coming out last fall...from a subscription to a news letter from the plant hunter/breeder who helped develop it...
check out Tim Wood Planthunter on interesting site ...I guarantee! LoL...

25 Jan, 2009


Hi Spritzhenry! I just checked out Phuopsis stylosa...It is a lovely it cloying sweet or resinous?

26 Jan, 2009


Hi Spritz...I don't know Phuopsis stylosa either. I will have to google it.
Lori ~ When I refered to Hardy geraniums it was actually the perennial geranium I meant...not the scented leaf ones although I like some of them too. The perennial geranium sounds to be similar to yours with a spicy woodsy resinous smell when you water or weed or cut back. It is a shame that it only flowers with a few hot pink bloom for a couple of weeks and then that is it for the year. The leaves turn a lovely reddish orange in the fall though.
I saw the hydrangea in the Dominion catalogue and did a double take at the price. Outrageous for a 3 1/2" pot.

26 Jan, 2009


I love scented plants, and you're right about some people not liking the same scents as you. I remember my grandmother had lots of pelargoniums. I like the smell of them but my aunt couldn't stand them. My gran and i would both laugh at her.

26 Jan, 2009


Hi Hywel...just to clear up the confusion here about geraniums vs. pelargoniums...the pic of my perennial geranium is number 22 of my pics (i think!)
The leaves of the pels. have a smell unlike anything else, don't they.... ? can't say I like it much either...but it is distinctive.

26 Jan, 2009


Hi Lori, I can't seem to find the photo but never mind.
I have some scented leaf pelargoniums. They have lovely scentes and the flowers are asymetrical. But also I have what's called Zonal Pelargonuiums with large bands on the leaves. Those flowers have all the petals the same size.
The Zonals also have scented leaves but not such a pleasant smell as you say. Those were the ones my gran had. I have one or two of hers still after many years.

27 Jan, 2009


My Mom loved the pelargoniums too, but she called them geraniums...which confused me a little at first.... she tried to keep them overwinter as a house plant...they would bloom but reluctantly.... then she'd put them outside for the summer...and they'd go berserk! Dad always just tossed the excess plants into the cellar...where they'd rest til March..then they'd start leafing out! My dad's method seemed a little strange in the early season...all these brown sticks poking out of the ground....but very soon after that... many leaves and non stop blossom... my Mom's fav colour was the salmon pink. I can still smell that odd mustiness of their leaves.

27 Jan, 2009


Interesting blog with beautiful pictures and food for thought, Spritz I grow Phuopsis stylosa, a good friend gave me a cutting about 20 years ago, never did well when we lived in the midlands, we still grow it here in the south, and you have amazed me I did not know it had a perfume, will have to get down on the ground when it comes into flower, just hope I can get back up again lol

27 Jan, 2009


The old pelagonium hardy geranium thing, my husbands favourite debate please dont get him started, will be here all night!!!

27 Jan, 2009


LOL... sorry DD2.... don't worry... mums the word!

27 Jan, 2009


I love scented plants. I have sarcococca, hyacinths, jasmine, roses and I'd really like to get more. I also like herbal foliage scents like bronze fennel, mint, myrtle, lemon balm (I want to get lemon verbena, that's the best one). My favourite scented pelargonium is P. tomentosum which smells minty, only better. Unfortunately it's looking decidedly dead in the GH right now in spite of successfully overwintering it during the previous milder winter. There's also a pelargonium called 'Orange Fizz' which smells just as you'd imagine. I don't like the smell of ordinary zonals at all, though, never have.

29 Jan, 2009


Just saw Milky's pic of her's a terrific looking plant and it always blows me away that they are "winter bloomers"!! Yes, I do realize that they're talking about plants that flower in winter...not snuggies...but it was worth a NOTHING blooms in winter here in my part of N.A. If a Canadian wants a winter garden they have to live in two very small distant parts of the country!! (coastal B.C. or Point Pelee, Ontario!!) and personal greenhouses are only in use from March heating them thro the winter is extremely expensive. liked the sound of "orange fizz" must see if I can find that...the plants available for sale around here rarely have specific var. listed...any that do are premium priced! I'm with you on the

29 Jan, 2009


Hi Lori,
Good blog.
"Was I selfish not to consider the sensitivities of others...?"
NO! Your garden is great, and great for the bees and other wildlife I'm sure.
Even if a neighbour minds the short scented time of that one particular tree, surely he/she appreciates the benefits of attracting wildlife not just to your garden, but to the whole area?
How could anyone object to bees? They are not wasps, and not aggressive, and these days their food sources are dwindling so rapidly. You've done the farmers and all of us a favour!

Do you already have witchhazel and that nice scented viburnum?

22 Feb, 2009


No Weeding, I have two arrowood and a trilobum, I was thinking of a witchhazel...but I think that will have to wait until next season and the next garden.
I have also seen mention of the problem with honey bees...we had better pray that our extension services and research facilities find a control or cure for the bees or our crops will fail...and then where will we be?? Imagine apples...etc.
The only folk I know of who are worried about bees are those who lapse into allergic shock from a sting...and careful as we usually are it's not hard to pinch a bee unexpectedly while weeding or deadheading. My sister has to carry an epi pen. If she gets stung she needs anti venin within 8-10 minutes or she could suffocate!
and the question of whether my neighbour appreciates my Eleagnus, or not, will be we are moving in early summer... Thanks for your supportive comment...of course good common sense should prevail...If they really don't like it they can take it up with the new owners!!...

22 Feb, 2009


i guess this is your new garden lori, its a lovely blog and your pics are great,,

10 May, 2009

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