Anita Morton - Growing Gardens

Scent of spring

What a delightful time of year this is. The late winter and early spring flowers are out, and the sunshine and warmer days extract the maximum perfume from them, so that on a still day one walks through clouds of scent delicious!

While there are many flowers that combine colour and perfume, it sometimes seems that white blooms are the most fragrant. Freesias, for example, are a terrific bulb for those who like swathes of colour in the garden. These plants flower in intense and pure hues which can be very dramatic but where is the famous freesia perfume? Only a trace remains, as scent has been sacrificed to colour. If you have fond memories of the perfume, you will need to seek out Freesia Refracta Alba, the old-fashioned cream to white cultivar.

Jonquils are another scented treasure of late winter. For perfume, I like Earlicheer and Paper White. Other jonquils have varying degrees of scent, but these are reliable flowerers and have a strong fragrance. Its worth noting here that some people find the scent of jonquils too strong if they are picked for indoors, so perhaps its best to enjoy them in the garden only.

Another excellent plant for winter and spring perfume is Buddleia Spring Promise. This cultivar was imported from China about 15 years ago, and was a favourite of mine from the first time I smelled the blossom. The white flowers have a strong fragrance that is almost identical to the scent of freesias, but the plant breaks into bloom a month before the freesias are out, almost doubling the time that one can enjoy this scent, and making the bees very happy. As with all buddleias, you should dead-head the plant after flowering and prune out the old wood to ensure plenty of blossom next year.

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