This weekend, we went to the Texas Hill Country to take a look at what’s blooming. Everyone I know has been posting bluebonnet photos on Facebook, so we knew we’d encounter those. Beyond the views, though, what I’d forgotten was the scent.
1. Planting for memory
My first experience of horizon-to-horizon bluebonnets was on our honeymoon. Not only was it visually spectacular, the fragrance floated in the air for days. So, here I was, walking up the road to get a photo of bluebonnets edging an enormous field of Texas groundsel. In still, humid air, I was enveloped in a scented cloud of clover honey. Yup, memory told me, that’s bluebonnets. A patch grows in my garden each year as a romantic reminder.
What fragrant memories do you have? Have you planned for scented encounters in the garden at different times to bring your memories to life and enjoyment?
2. Ergonomic fragrance design
Walking back, though, I walked into another, more strongly fragrant cloud, like buckwheat honey. That one was a Texas persimmon tree, loaded with tiny white blossoms and bees. This tree was growing in a drop-off, so the blossoms beside me were right at nose level. What a novel approach this could be in your garden!
Where could you deliberately plan for a plant to provide a wonderful fragrance right next to your nose? Maybe it’s a flowering tree with branches that you let droop a bit, especially near that comfortable bench you’ve added.
Or maybe it’s a short pedestal placed in the common path of breezes to your porch. You have containers that you trade out during the seasons to keep the scents coming. You may have to look for old-fashioned plants and seeds, as so many have been hybridized for flashy flowers. The trade-off is the loss of lovely smells. Think of bearded iris that smells like grapes, sweet peas, petunias, roses, or even pots of herbs.
3. Keep the nose exploring
Walking through the backyard with my nose now more closely attuned to fragrances, I picked up whiffs of a sweet, haunting scent but couldn’t identify the plant it came from. A quick session with essential oils helped narrow it down. It was something from the citrus family.
Sure enough, when I traipsed back out to the insignificant devil’s walkingstick tree kept to nourish butterfly caterpillars, the tiny green flowers yelled, “Smell me!” “No, smell me!” as they competed for my attention. What a fragrant wonder! Before you yank out that flower or shrub or small tree, thinking it dull, check to see if you’re missing its contribution to the aromatic clouds that can surround us. Who needs Chanel?!?