greentapestry : On The Scent

Saturday, 31 January 2015

On The Scent


Just before January morphs into February a chance to join in Wellywoman's new meme being run together with Sue over at 'Backlane Notebook', on the subject of 'Scent In The Garden'. This is a theme that I find fascinating and I've always tried to bear scent in my mind when thinking about what to grow. It's much too cold here at the moment to stick my nose out in search of scent. So for this month, here is a brief run through of three books lurking in my bookshelves, which have provided me with suggestions for scent in the garden over the years.

The first of these is Eleanor Sinclair Rohde's book 'The Scented Garden' which was first published in 1931 by the Medici Society and then republished in 1989. The author's premise that "Fragrance in flowers may, indeed, be described as their music, and it is non the less beautiful because it is silent" is an appealing one. The book starts with some general thoughts on the scented garden which is punctuated with references to history and literature including old gardening essays and books. Just reading this first chapter makes my nose start to twitch. The introduction is followed by chapters on :
  • January and February in the scented garden
  • Violets, primroses and wallflowers
  • Spring Flowering Bulbs and Shrubs
  • The Scents of Early Summer 
  • The Old Roses
  • The Aromatic Herbs
  • The Afternoon of the Year
  • Sweet Bag, Pot - Pourri and Other Recipes
  • Plant Lists
There are beautiful illustrations throughout by the botanical artist Patricia Dale, although I confess to wishing that there were more of them. Sadly from what I can gather the book is no longer in print but it's possible to track down second hand copies.



The second book of the trio is Rosemary Verey's 'The Scented Garden,' which was first published in 1981. An introduction is followed by chapters on :
  • Roses 
  • Annuals, biennials and perennials
  • Bulbs, corms and tubers
  • Herbs
  • Shrubs, trees and climbers
  • Fragrant exotica 
An appendix has useful lists of plants with scented leaves, plants with scented flowers, scented plants for each of the seasons, scented plants for evening and night, scented plants for cutting, scented plants for indoors and scented plants for outdoor tubs. The book is well illustrated throughout with plates of paintings, photographs as well as line drawings. Again this book is no longer in publication but second hand copies can be obtained from second hand bookshops and online sources. It is this book where I first came across the concept of forcing winter bouquets so that you could enjoy both scent and colour at close quarters indoors. Magic!


The third book is Jenny Joseph's 'Led By The Nose'. The author is better known for her poetry especially the brilliant 'When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple'. The day draws ever closer for my wardrobe! This little book takes you through the calendar year in terms of not only scents that you might encounter in the garden but also the various cyclical activities that goes on in most gardens. There are various lists at the end of the book, including what you might be able to smell each month. The list for January is thinner than it is for many other months but there is still a surprising number of scented pleasures to be savoured. The book concludes with various lists including a most comprehensive list on scented roses as well as an essay on smell. This book is perhaps easier to get hold of than the others and is also available on a Kindle or ebook format.

I'm hoping to pick up more delightful fragrant suggestions as the year goes on thanks to Louise and Sue.

29 comments:

  1. As you know, I love scented plants and perfume is a major consideration in plants added to my garden. In a temperate climate winter flowers often have more fragrance than their summer flowering cousins, this is because there are fewer pollinators around so the plant must attract those that are flying from a greater distance. It is one of the joys of the winter garden.

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    1. So true Christina. It's been too cold for the last week or so for flying creatures to venture out on the wing but when it warns up I'm sure the winter scented flowers will be a beacon for them.

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  2. Scent is so important in the garden. I have the Eleanor Rohdes book and I have read the Rosemary Verey one.
    I will look out for the Jenny Joseph book, I only know her for the poem ' When I am old I shall wear purple'. I was rather taken with the idea of stealing flowers from the park and learning to spit. It seems to be a sort of consolation for growing old. My husband has forbidden me to entertain any such ambitions though. He says he does not want to grow old with an ' Old Dink'. I' m not sure what an old dink is but clearly it is something to be avoided.
    I would add Stephen Lacey' s book ' Scent in your Garden' to your list.

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    1. Himself would not approve of me spitting in public either Chloris. I've not heard the term 'Old Dink' either but so perhaps we should just stick to wearing purple when the time comes. Thanks for the Stephen Lacey suggestion. I've read reviews am am ruminating :)

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  3. I could definitely do with some pointers on scented plants, especially those for winter months, so I shall look forward to hearing what everyone comes up with each month.

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    1. Such a meme is no doubt going to provide some great ideas Jo.

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  4. I have certainly reached the age when I can wear purple and I do!
    Scent is so important in a garden and one of the delights in the winter is going out, just to smell my Daphne!
    I don't think I have any books about scent, I have so many other gardening books, I must go and check.

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    1. I'm sure you look most majestic in purple Pauline. Funnily enough I did wear purple regularly and even got married in it. The colour seems to have disappeared from my wardrobe though so I will have to remedy the situation in readiness :) I wonder if you found any books on scent.

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  5. I really do love scent on the garden. When buying flowers it's something that I always take onto consideration.

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  6. I love scent on the garden. When buying plants it is something that is always taken into consideration. A rose or sweet pea without scent is never as appealing is it?

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    1. I hope that you were not having problems commenting on my post Sue as I see that you have commented twice. I'm sorry if you have and if so thanks for your persistence. Sadly I'm having problems commenting on Blogger at the moment - again :( I quite agree - a scentless rose or sweet pea lack a certain something essential.

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    2. I did have a problem Anna so sorry for the repetition.Blogger does seem to go through flaky periods but the odd thing is that when it does it seems to be selective about who it affects,

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    3. I thought as much Sue but thanks for confirming that you had a problem with commenting. I've just lost one of my replies to a comment which is so frustrating. I'm trying to remember to copy each comment I make on Blogger blogs before I hit the publish button. I also think that if I hit it slowly it seems to publish but it's hard to prove that theory. I'm seriously thinking of changing camps.

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  7. I am intrigued by the Jenny Joseph book (whether or not I am of an age to wear purple or not, which I do - often) and will look out for it. I have certainly become more aware of the importance of scent in the garden with winter flowering smellies

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    1. I'm sure that you would enjoy Jenny's book Cathy. It's an ideal read for this time of year.

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  8. I never used to bother too much about scent but reading about the scent of plants in other folks gardens really changed that for me. Mind you, some of the plants that are supposed to be scented are scentless for me.

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    1. I think that scent is a very individual sense Angie. I've also sometimes noticed that temperature can influence scent so maybe when you can't pick up on an aroma it may be the temperature is responsible rather than your nose :)

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  9. A garden wouldn't be the same without fragrant flowers - one instinctly buries their nose into flowers and although some are beautiful it is always a disappointment when there is no scent.

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    1. I agree with you Elaine - a beautiful flower without scent is disappointing.

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  10. Those books look lovely Anna, and I will definitely seek one of them out! I think scent is always wonderful in a garden, and the bees would certainly appreciate more too.

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    1. Good luck with the book search Cathy. I'm sure that the bees are even more happy to discover scented flowers than we are. They must buzz even louder.

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  11. I think that scents in the garden are one of the most powerful senses that I love in gardening....I need to add more throughout the seasons.

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  12. Scent is a big part of my garden, I could spend hours 'sniffing around'. These books are new to me and I shall investigate - thanks for introducing me to them :)

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    1. My pleasure Annette. It's fun to sniff as long as a bee hasn't got there first!

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  13. Hi Anna, Thank you for joining in and for these book titles. My book shelves are already groaning under the weight of books as I've discovered a real interest in secondhand gardening books. I will make a note of these and keep a look out. We often go to Hay on Wye so I'm sure I'll come across them. I know the RHS have just published a book on scent by Stephen Lacey so that might be worth a look too. Hope you're well and keeping warm. I can't believe it's February already. Here's to the arrival of spring. x

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    1. Funnily enough we were only discussing the fact that we have not been to Hay on Wye for ages at the weekend. Browsing through the bookshops there is my idea of sheer bliss. Now that himself has discovered a love for reading I think that I would have no qualms of guilt over loitering for hours. Thanks for the Stephen Lacey suggestion. It's already a tentative on my wish list. Hoping to have a peek next time I get to a bookshop. Yes roll on spring!

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  14. I'm always on the lookout for sweet smelling plants. Years of chronic sinus infections have robbed me of some of my sense of smell and I love plants that are strongly scented. These books sound like great resources. :o)

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  15. Welcome and thanks for your comment CM. I can sympathise with you having suffered from nasal problems over the last year or so. These books contain a wealth of information and I often refer to them.

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All your comments are much appreciated and treasured. I wil try to reply to everyone who leaves a comment, but it may take me a few days, especially when I start spending more time in the garden and at the lottie. I know that you will understand :) I am sure that I will also visit your blog if I have not already done so. If you have any specific questions I will either reply to them here or you can email me at : thegreentapestry@gmail.com

Namasté

- Anna.