The Mountain Gardener: Make blooms and fragrance the hallmark of your garden
by Jan Nelson
May 16, 2013 | 2157 views | 0 0 comments | 69 69 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Recently I received a bouquet of Stargazer lilies. The spectacular flowers on each stem open in succession and the display will last for nearly two weeks if I take care of them changing the water regularly and re-cutting the stems.

I wish the lilies in my own garden would hurry up and open. Mine are always a little behind those in warmer spots. When they do open later in the month, they will scent the garden with an unforgettable fragrance. Some flowers are memorable for their beautiful color, some for the hummingbirds they attract and some have it all --vibrant hues, nectar and fragrance. I love them all. Perhaps you want to add a few new ones to your own garden. Try one of these.

Lilies are one of the easiest of bulbs to grow. Stargazers are the most stunning and perhaps the most celebrated of lily varieties. Curious about their origin, I discovered a little intrigue among horticultural historians. Seems they don't like seeing history revised. The bottom line is this lily was not first bred in 1974 by Mr. Leslie Woodruff of California, as some have said, but rather by Robert Griesbach of Washington. He named the flower in his friends’ honor. When you have an established clump of Stargazer lilies it doesn't matter who first bred them.

The stems of the Stargazer can reach 3 to 6 feet tall and have in excess of 40 flowers each when planted in full sun in loamy or sandy soil. The blooms will last for a month or so. You can still grow beautiful lilies in as little as 6 hours of sun per day, so don't be discouraged if you don't have a spot that receives full sun all day long. The sunlight can even be accrued over the course of the day, so if your garden gets some morning sun, then again later in the day, it all adds up.

If you are looking for a fragrant vine other than pink jasmine, I have two suggestions. The first is Evergreen Clematis (clematis armandii). Earlier this spring you couldn't miss their fragrance if you were anywhere near a blooming one. Covered with an abundance of highly-scented, star-like flowers in brilliant white clusters, this showy evergreen vine grows fast in partial sun. This vine is perfect as a patio, trellis or arbor cover and makes a great privacy screen. Give this vine support as it grows to 25 feet long because it can become quite heavy. If you live among deer, it's a great choice for a fragrant vine.

Fragrant climbing roses trained on an arbor or fence is a classic landscape design choices. One of my favorites for gardens I design is Climbing Iceberg because they are disease-resistant and have few thorns. It's hard to find a better behaved rose that gives so much in return with no effort on your part. They start blooming early with a lovely sweet rose fragrance and continue until frost. Two climbers planted on each side of a window make a stunning display. It's one of my favorite white roses of all time and grows in sun or partial shade.

If you think violas are only for the winter garden, think again. Viola Etain is a reliable perennial that blooms heavily spring through fall. Soft primrose yellow petals edged in lavender are sweetly scented and bloom easily in sun or bright shade, and in containers. If you cut the plants back to 3-inches tall once in awhile to rejuvenate, and top dress with compost, they will reward you with nine months of fragrance and become one of your favorite violas, too.

There are so many fragrant flowers that make great additions to the garden. Freesia, hyacinth and narcissus bulbs are good bets for early fragrance. Then come the nemesia in every color imaginable. Phlox, lilacs, tuberose, star jasmine, stock, citrus blossoms, gardenia, lily-of-the-valley, daphne, carnations -- the possibilities are endless. If you have a particular spot you'd like a suggestion for a fragrant plant, email me and I'd be happy to help.

 

Fragrance in the garden is nature's way of smiling.

- Jan Nelson, a landscape designer and California certified nursery professional, will answer questions about gardening in the Santa Cruz Mountains. E-mail her at janis001@aol.com, or visit www.jannelsonlandscapedesign.com to view past columns and pictures.

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