The Nose Garden
Present a flower to a child and watch what he does. Nine times out of
ten, the very first thing will be to bury his nose in the center and
take a healthy sniff. One of the most enchanting things about gardens
are their fragrances yet many of our modern flower varieties
have had the scent bred right out of them.
To me, spring smells like lilacs, and a summer afternoon should be
scented with the tang of growing tomatoes. Romance is the nearly
cloying sweetness of gardenia drifting on the breeze on a summer
night, and nothing says autumn quite so clearly as the crisp scent of
apples in the orchard. In these days of artificial flavors and
aromas, a garden grown specifically to appeal to the nose is a
curiously enticing idea.
You can create a garden that perfumes the air throughout the year by
choosing fragrant plants that bloom during different seasons. Keep
these principles in mind:
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Choose plants that will bloom in sequence, and avoid too many plants
that bloom at the same time. You want to enjoy each plant for itself,
not part of a mélange.
Plant fragrant ground covers along paths and walkways. The passage of
feet will stir and lift the scent.
Plant fragrant herbs and flowers in window boxes and containers near
benches so that you can enjoy their scents easily.
Train vines like wisteria and honeysuckle to grow over fences and
arbors so that their scent is stirred by passing breezes.
Make note of the usual prevailing winds. If the wind often blows from
the east, then it will carry the scent of a fragrance garden planted
east of the house toward the house itself.
My own nose garden starts in mid-spring when the lilacs bloom. A
single bush in the corner of the yard perfumes the entire
neighborhood with its sweet, heady scent. Just as its blooms are
fading, the roses take over.
Old fashioned, antique and English roses are considered to be among
the most fragrant of flowers, and I can testify to that. One spring I
was haunted by the fragrance of roses that seemed to hang over the
entire neighborhood despite the absence of a single visible
rose bush. The source was an antique 4-petal rose that had taken over
the back of an abandoned, overgrown lot. I transplanted several canes
of it to my own yard, and have carried them with me wherever I move.
The roses bloom through late June, and often again in late October if
the weather stays warm enough. Between their blooming, there are
gardenia, honeysuckle, mints, verbena and lavender to please the
Other fragrant plants that you can choose for your own garden include
magnolia, citrus plants, box hedges, myrtle, John F. Kennedy and
Heritage roses, jasmine, clematis and wisteria. Theres nothing
like the fragrance of a garden in full bloom. You owe it to yourself
to enjoy it.