Scent of summer in the garden

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Scent of summer in the garden by Sally Gregson

What could be more redolent of an English summer than the perfume of roses scenting the air on a warm June evening? It’s what every gardener has been dreaming about all winter and spring.
Some ‘old’ varieties are perfumed with a true rose scent, some with a ‘musky’ aroma – while the foliage of others has a distinct fragrance of ripe apples.
One rose which bears apple-scented leaves and truly rose-scented flowers is Rosa ‘Mme Alfred Carriere’. She was a great favourite of Vita Sackville-West. It climbs many of the old Tudor brick buildings at Sissinghurst.
By the end of summer when La Madame has ceased to flower, other powerful perfumes fill the air. There are some beautiful, and scented, flowers for pots to position where you sit outside.
Tobacco plants (Nicotiana sylvestris) are famously evening-scented with a heavy, pervasive perfume. They are perfect in pots alongside a door to welcome evening visitors.
As is Gladiolus murielae – formally Acidanthera murielae. It is most unlike a ‘glad’ in appearance, and perfume, but once the pure white flowers open to reveal their maroon-red throats, they pump out a powerful scent that would fill the entire garden.
As autumn drifts into winter some plants move up a gear – they take advantage of the lack of competition and give it their all, bright flowers, perfume, the works. They have to attract every passing pollinating insect with all they can muster.
November brings out the small white flowers of the Winter Box, Sarcococca confusa, that can scent a huge area – worth planting in the front garden to welcome Christmas visitors. And the Algerian Iris (Iris unguicularis) starts into flower in November and continues throughout winter.
Plant a clump at the foot of a hot, sunny wall and it will produce large, soft blue, scented flowers – perfect to pick for a day on the kitchen table. They are the perfect antidote to a wet winter’s day.

by Sally Gregson

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