Every Blooming Thing: Fragrances and scents in the garden
Breeding plants and flowers for fragrance is "in" these days.
After decades of breeding out scent as unimportant, many hybridizers have turned their focus to breeding scent back into plants.
Plant nurseries are promoting fragrance as a new attribute of their wares. Gardening writers are addressing scent in catalogue descriptions, magazine articles, and books. Catalogues use only two or three words to describe scent which leaves one believing identifying scent is very simple when it is actually very complex.
We humans have very emotional responses to scents and fragrances based on our experiences.
A few years ago, I attended a National Garden Club Symposium in Montana where the instructor gave us an exercise in identifying scent. She passed around 12 different candles and asked us to identify the fragrances. I must admit, that after three or four "flavors," my olfactory nerves went haywire, but I persevered and took a stab at identifying the remaining eight scents.
To my chagrin I got only six out of 12 correct; some participants got only two or three. The instructor explained that getting only two or three correct is common. This test, though not scientific, made us recognize how under-developed our sense of smell is.
Dogs and other animals must laugh at us.
My dictionary defines fragrance as a noun, the state or quality of being fragrant or a pleasant scent; sweet odor; while fragrant is identified as an adjective, as in having as agreeable or sweet smell. The word scent is a noun, defined as a distinctive odor, especially a pleasant one or an extract from flowers or other fragrant substances; perfume. These definitions again make simple a very complex response.
Scented roses are making a big comeback. I have three in my garden that are recognized for being highly fragrant: the "Golden Celebrations," the "Sombreuil," and the "Zephirine Drouhin." There are many others.
Not all roses have the same fragrance. I really can't tell you what fragrance my roses are. Only words like wonderful and heavenly come to my mind. Rose Story Farm in Carpinteria specializes in fragrant roses.
Jackson & Perkins have a line of perfumed roses: Honey Perfume, Radiant Perfume, Melody Parfumee.
Many other plants are known for their scents, such as Lavender and many other herbs, carnations, petunias, freesia, lilies. Think of the scents of ripe vegetables warmed by the summer sun,tomatoes, peppers, beans, cucumbers, and of course garlic and onions.
Visit a garden center and treat yourself, and your nose, to a new perfume.
Kathy Bramhall is a member of the Red Bluff Garden Club, which is affiliated with Cascade District Garden Club; California Garden Club Inc.; Pacific Region Garden Clubsand National Garden Clubs Inc.