The Scent of Summer

As the golden oats glimmer in the sunlight, the year turns and the nights start drawing in. We have barely got started growing in the garden. There is so much to flower, fruit and chop down before we even think about sweeping leaves and for me, blissful 4pm finishes because its too dark to garden.

I have been worried since I started writing that I wasn’t covering enough. There are so many plants you could be growing and would be needing attention.This week I looked up a list of flowering plants for June. 12, 195 on RHS website with summer as their season of interest and Crocus has 700 plants for sale that are in flower right now. I am allowing myself to stop panicking and realise I can not possibly hope to cover everything that needs doing or every plant you may have in your garden looking brilliant at any given time. So please forgive me if you think I should be mentioning something I don’t. I just write about a few things I run into during my gardening week.

Philadelphus ‘Belle Etoille’

With Philadelphus season in full flow I thought I would touch on two things, firstly the confusion between Philadelphus which is commonly referred to as a mock orange as the blossom and a Choisya which is referred to a mexican orange blossom. Both plants smell very different but the flowers are similar looking hence the close common names as they do both resemble the blossom found on citrus trees however they are very different shrubs. Secondly, I have been thinking this week about the ‘Marmite’ reactions people can have to the same shrubs as these two are as good a place as any to highlight this.

Philadelphus ‘Silver Showers’

Philadelphus, a genus of deciduous shrubs that flower around now on the growth they made last year. The flowers are usually single, unless you grow ‘Virginal’ which has double flowers and there are varieties that range in height from about 1m to 3m. They do not have wonderfully coloured foliage at anytime of the year, unless you grow ‘Coronarius Aureus’ which has yellow leaves in summer, but the scent for me is superb. It is perfect wafting around a warm summer’s evening and as far as I am concerned would be certainly worthy of a place in any garden. Other people regard the smell as far too sickly and even cloying.

Choisya, on the other hand is an evergreen shrub with green or yellow leaves.It has already flowered and I really don’t like the smell of either the flowers or the shrub in general which has a smell that resembles cat pee to me. As unruly a shrub as Philadelphus can be Choisya is a solid green blob that it difficult to make look any different. So for me a mock orange is the plant to choose and leave the mexican orange blossom behind.

Before we move on from scent entirely, another of my favourite scents in the garden is the biennial Sweet Rocket, Hesperis matronalis, If you envisage honesty flowers in either purple or white you are not far off but the scent is absolutely divine on a summers evening and the white variety seem to glow in the dark. To get some to flower next year plant the seeds now. You won’t be disappointed.

John Herbert, was writing his famous herbal, which included Catananche, a new introduction to Britain, at the time of Shakespeare penning his play. SHakespeare and Herbert were known to each other. It seems much more likely fit when you read the descriptions of the two plants in herbals contemporary to the play. Just a little bit of info I found digging for my show garden in 2004.

I specialise in plants and looking after as well as planting them. I do not look after of have no interest in turf or lawns or laying slabs or building walls. Even so my days in the garden are not glamorous. This week I found myself not quite between a rock and a hard place, but barbed wire and hazel panels, whilst I started to clear an area to plant some Cotoneaster watereri and Viburnum rhytidophyllum to create an evergreen hedge before the panels fall to bits.

Anyway, that’s all from me this week. Enjoy the beautiful weather and Happy Days in the Garden x