The scent of spring

If I can smell it, anyone can. It seems a shame that a gardener is not able to enjoy the scents, as well as the sights of the garden, but if you ask my wife my hearing is not so good either.  So, I’m challenged in many ways.

Eternal Fragrance is in full bloom. It will flower sporadically through November.

Eternal Fragrance daphne is in full bloom. It will flower sporadically through November.

On this bright and breezy afternoon I managed to stay in the garden finding one thing or the other to keep myself occupied for hours, and there was just enough warmth that I was able to catch a nap on the stone patio beside the koi pond (a late spring and summer tradition). While awake I found a few spare stones to lengthen a path on the low side of the pond to extend past an area that has become increasingly muddy from the pond’s overflow. Through the winter deer churned the sod into a sloppy mess, but now there are enough stones in the path to extend past the worst of it.

Carol Mackie daphne lost its leaves in the cold winter, but a few weeks later it is in full leaf, and in a few days will be in full bloom.

Carol Mackie daphne lost its leaves in the cold winter, but a few weeks later it is in full leaf, and in a few days will be in full bloom.

Now that the hostas are up I was able to plant most of the hellebores that were waiting for open spaces. I’ve seen one that was planted a few weeks ago that is a bit too close to a low growing hosta that I had forgotten about, so the hellebore will probably need to be moved in the next few weeks. The other hellebores were given good, shady homes in soil that is not too dry, so the wait was worthwhile though a few are barely hanging on after sitting on the driveway through a cold March.

The flowers of Sweetshrub are fragrant, but I can enjoy the scent only on rare occasions on a still evening.

The flowers of Sweetshrub are fragrant, but I can enjoy the scent only on rare occasions on a still evening.

I’m surprised by the number of hellebore seedlings this spring. Instead of the typical dozens, now there are hundreds. Some are two years old and ready to be moved, and I’ve offered my sons, just beginning their gardens in new homes, that they are welcome to as many as they please. One son has asked about splitting some hostas, and of course the divisions will hardly be missed. I am very pleased that this next generation shares my appreciation for the garden, though perhaps they will not be so fanatical.

Vernal witch hazel in January

Vernal witch hazel in January

Today, I planted three native witch hazels (Hamamelis virginiana), or at least ones that are labelled as such. I’ve been through this before with a large shrub that turned out to be the Vernal witch hazel (Hamamelis vernalis, above) instead, and if the ones I planted at the forest’s edge today are correctly labelled I’ll be happy to have witch hazels flowering from November into March. While I cannot always smell the fragrant flowers of the witch hazels, on a still, sunny winter day the scent can fill the lower garden.

Burkwood viburnum is tall and lanky, and perfectly suited for placement along the forest's edge where its open habit is not so obvious.

Burkwood viburnum is tall and lanky, and perfectly suited for placement along the forest’s edge where its open habit is not so obvious.

Certainly, I can smell the viburnums this afternoon, despite the breeze. Korean spice and Burkwood viburnums are flowering, with the tall, lanky Burkwood just coming into full bloom. The semi evergreen ‘Pragense’ will flower in a few days, and while its blooms are larger, they are not fragrant.

Elizabeth is a tall growing hybrid with the native Cucumber magnolia. Though its flowers are a pale yellow, the tree is splendid in bloom.

Elizabeth is a tall growing hybrid with the native Cucumber magnolia. Though its flowers are a pale yellow, the tree is splendid in bloom.

The early flowering magnolias were delayed by weeks with the late cold so that ‘Dr. Merrill’ and ‘Royal Star’ overlapped with the start of the creamy yellow flowered ‘Elizabeth’ (above) and purple ‘Jane’. ‘Elizabeth’ is particularly fragrant, and it is an annual disappointment when its flowers are knocked off prematurely by a thunderstorm. This afternoon, the ground is littered with blooms shattered in last night’s storm.

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