Spring Fragrance

Excuses about not blogging for a long time aside (blah blah blah....right?) I've decided to get this going again. Third time's the charm right? Aside from perfume news and reviews, which are still to come, I wanted to start up a new spring series about fragrant plants for the garden. As spring quickly approaches the weather becomes unpredictable, birds build their nests, and there's an explosion of color and scent in the garden. Although many spring flowers do not have a scent, there are usually varieties that do indeed have the added dimension of fragrance. In fact some of the most legendary and expensive ingredients in perfume come from spring flowers, while others are relatively unknown to most.

(Photo above: Narcissus 'Brackenhurst' at the US Botanic Garden -- not a significantly fragrant daffodil, but a great early show-stopper)

1) Narcissus x odorus flore pleno (Double Campernelle Daffodil, Queen Anne's Double Jonquil)

The Campernelles are some of my favorite daffodils when considering fragrance. Anyone interested in scent in the garden needs to have at least a clump of them. One of the earliest daffodils to pop up in the spring, they started blooming here in Washington, DC in the second week of March. The are about 10 to 12 inches tall and the golden yellow flower can vary from a double cup to a yellow rose shape with many flowers on one stem. It's great to cut a few of them to put them in a vase and bring them indoors where you can really savor their sweet scent of honeyed musk. You really can't beat them.

Available from: Brent & Becky's Bulbs, Colorblends

2) Mahonia aquifolium (Oregon-Grape)

This relative of the hollies starts to bloom extremely early in the spring in Washington, DC (this year as early as early February) and they continue to bloom for a long period of time as long as the weather remains cool. The shrubs can be otherwise rather coarse in texture, but the flowers are their truly redeeming quality. The flowers have a sweet fragrance that is reminiscent of jasmine and lemon. It has a sugary tang to it and I personally cannot walk by a Mahonia without plunging my nose into one of the panicles of flowers.

3) Narcissus 'Carlton' (Carlton Daffodil)

Carlton is one of the most common daffodils and the quintessential daffodil that is the first to come to mind. It' s a great perennializer, especially in southern gardens. It's a large-cupped canary yellow daffodil that blooms early and profusely. Carlton is truly a sign that spring has arrived. This is the daffodil that lines highways and you find growing on old homesteads long after the homes gone. It's also the daffodil that you find in your grocery stores and sold by the American Cancer Society during Daffodil Days. It also has a slight fragrance as well, which is much softer compared to the Campernelles, but still worth mentioning. It has a warm vanilla sugar scent. Place a vase of unopened Carlton buds on a table in your house and by morning you'll have a vase of glowing daffodils fully opened and a wonderfully-scented room.

Available from: Brent & Becky's Bulbs, McClure & Zimmerman, and Colorblends

Many more to come!