Don't you love the late spring garden, flower-filled, when suddenly you think - where's that delicious fragrance coming from?
Poet's daffodils (Narcissus poeticus varieties); mollis azalea; dwarf lilac; English roses?...or, probably most potent, mock orange (Philadelphus sp, the shrub named for brotherly love (cue `Ode to Joy')). One of my favourite of the mock oranges is good old Philadelphus coronarius (Syn. Philadelphus mexicanus) or evergreen mock orange (above).All the Philadelphus species have these unusual squarish flowers - and usually amazing fragrance. Evergreen mock orange is so, so drought-hardy but so are the dwarf ones and the 3m+ P. `Natchez' (bought from Dicksonia Rare Plants many years ago) which flowers prolifically in spring in my unwatered garden. Some varieties have white, blushing blooms, although I prefer the many pure white ones, and most are deciduous.
There's also a tiny Osmanthus in the garden but I think it's too small to flower, and it's probably too late in the season for one of this genus, but it, too, has the reputation for such fabulous fragrance that people detect the perfume a long way from the plant...and then, irresistibly, follow their nose.If my garden was a little larger I'd have at least 3 species (or cultivars) of Osmanthus to have them wafting their strong scent from about mid-autumn until about mid-spring (and much of the year).
Osmanthus x fortunei has white flowers in autumn, with a strong perfume, and reaches 2m high; Osmanthus heterophyllus 'Rotundifolia' (False Holly) for winter blooms; Osmanthus delavayi ` Heaven Scent' has perfumed white flowers winter-spring; and Osmanthus fragrans (`Fragrant Olive') for spring & late summer blooms (depending on climate). Osmanthus x burkwoodii, also, has perfumed white flowers in spring.
Then again I could plant them, keep them trimmed - and besides, they are slow growers.Seriously tempting!
Jill Weatherhead is horticulturist, writer, garden designer and principal at Jill Weatherhead Garden Design who lives in the Dandenong Ranges east of Melbourne, and works throughout Victoria. (www.jillweatherheadgardendesign.com.au)