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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Spring Fragrance

Here are a few plants that are blooming with some amount of fragrance in my garden  None are wafting fragrance so must be smelled up close.  A little known charmer with kind of erratic branch structure is Lonicera syringantha, flowers resembling lilacs.   The light lavender flowers are tubular and in small clusters.  The fragrance is very nice though a little faint on a wet day.
Next, planted also next to a concrete porch for added warmth, Choisya ternata, and with bigger flower
clusters, more attractive foliage, slightly more scent, and bigger plant size, Choisya 'Aztec Pearl'.

It's a good thing they only call these "Mock Orange" because their fragrance can't compare with actual orange blossoms, which can waft their beautiful scent quite a distance.

But the winner in my garden is the wild False Solomon's Seal, Smilacina racemosa, with an exquisite scent worthy of a great perfume.  It is a scent that seems to overwhelm the senses.  While they are blooming, assuming the deer leave them alone or I put wire around them, I try to make a daily pilgrimage to delight in sniffing them.

Over time they make delightful clumps.
The true Solomon's Seal, Polygonatum commutatum, has charming little flowers hanging down under the stems but no fragrance I can detect.  They spread by rhizomes that add an angular bead-like joint on every year, and have medicinal uses.

Second prize would go to Daphne odora but it is not blooming yet this year.  It has a vibrant scent as well.
An honorable mention is given to Daphne x transatlantica 'Summer Ice', which has a lovely scent but just not as strong or entrancing.

So, what is your favorite fragrant flower blooming now?


Monday, May 16, 2011

Alpine Strawberries

One of my successes last year was to start Alpine Strawberries from seed and get fruit the same year.  The varieties I started last year were Alexandria and Delicious.  Here are some in a strawberry pot-
They are blooming already.  The ones planted in the ground are also blooming.  This year I bought more seeds from The Strawberry Store-  Fragola Quattro Stagioni (4 Seasons), Fragola di Bosco, these 2 are Italian Alpines; also Ali Baba, Baron Solemacher, Mignonette, Reine des Vallees, Ruegen, and Yellow Wonder, all of which are runnerless, and finally a Wood strawberry that makes runners from ebay.  Even though the seedlings are initially very small, they develope quickly and seem tough, I haven't had trouble with them dying off like some native plants I have tried.

Alpine Strawberries have small delicate berries, but with a more intense flavor than large strawberries.  They also keep blooming and fruiting all the way until frost.  It is fun to look for the little fruits, and they make a neat and well-behaved plant in the border.  I'm trying to work them into more of my borders where they add a lot of charm.  The Wood running strawberry will have to be planted where it can spread.  It is already making runners in the pots as a seedling.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Fast Starting Plant Winners

A couple of plants that I started this year win the Fast Starting Award, achieving bloom under lights in a short time.   Agastache aurantiaca, a native perennial, was started 1/17/11 and has been blooming since 4/18/11, and Asperula orientalis, a Euro-Asian annual that self-sows, was started 2/7/11 and has been blooming since 4/15/11.  The remarkable thing is they are blooming under lights.  The Asperula is supposed to be sky blue but is a pale magenta or lavender under lights.  I will have to see how that changes if grown outdoors.
The Agastache aurantiaca smells heavenly, too.  I am in process of hardening off some plants and getting them set out but have been hampered this year by cold temperatures and lots of rainy days, still continuing.  I also started Agastache foeniculum last year and it has made it through the winter outdoors, and this year I started other Agastaches as well- cusickii, occidentalis- a Northwest native, cana, rupestris, and a few other native plants with seed from Alplains.  None of them are blooming yet.

My Cinnamon Basil also is blooming but is not getting an award since that is not a desirable quality in a Basil plant.

Happy growing , Hannah