Sunday, May 17, 2015

Garden Fragrance: May

sterling silver, rose, hybrid tea
This month, for the first time, the scents in the garden are dominated by the presence of roses.  This is true even though not all have begun blooming yet; as I noted in my last post, James Galway is taking a little extra time to settle.

But overall, the new roses are getting into stride.  Graham Thomas has just opened a first bloom though the plant is still not more than a foot and a half high.
Graham thomas, rose, david austin rose
The scent of "The Generous Gardener", which has begun to be very generous indeed with its blooms, is superb.  It is markedly old rose in character, which is also true of the quartered flower forms.
the generous gardener, rose, david austin rose
Blooms continue to be lighter than anticipated, but the same happened with the first flush of blooms from Crown Princess Margareta, so I'm not yet debating the identity of the rose.  Crown Princess Margareta is now consistently blooming in luscious apricot hues with, of course, a lovely, full fragrance.  Only buds just at the moment...
Crown princess margareta, rose, david austin rose
...also true of St. Swithun, which is setting up its first now.  I include it though, honestly, the flowers are not yet open enough to smell.
St Swithun, english rose, rosebuds
I still have no good pictures of The Alnwick Rose, but its scent is certainly one good reason to grow it.  Wollerton Old Hall has also paused.  However, the old hybrid tea Sterling Silver is in full bloom.   This variety has a reputation for being a bit weak when young; but in this garden it has grown and flowered freely.  Perhaps this Massachusetts-born rose prefers desert conditions after all!   Its classic tea fragrance is second to none.
Sterling silver, rose, roses, hybrid tea rose
Aside from roses, there are a few fragrant flowers that have been in bloom for months, as well as a couple that were not expected so early.  The latter group includes Agastache "Apricot Sprite", known as licorice mint because of its strong, minty scent.
Agastache, apricot sprite
This is a young plant which came from High Country Gardens back in March.  Both this one and A. "Ava" are anticipating their expected late summer bloom time by several months.  However, as they are growing vigourously, I am not too concerned.

Another plant which arrived with them is Salvia reptans, sometimes called West Texas Grass Sage.  It is also going ahead early and sending out its miniscule but magnificently blue flowers.  Scent, while present, is perhaps not its strong point: pungent with, to my nose, a hint of gasoline.  Perhaps it would be better to note that many desert plants have fairly pungent fragrances of the love-it-or-hate-it type.  Despite my description, I don't actually mind the smell of S. reptans.  I would definitely grow it for the colour more than the scent, however!
Salvia reptans, grass sage, southwest native plants
A dry-country plant with a much sweeter smell is Berlandiera lyrata, the chocolate flower.  It had just begun blooming when I first posted for the Scent in the Garden meme.  At that time, I could hardly smell it, since when the fragrance has become unmistakeable.  I can only describe it as distinctively chocolate without sending one immediately in search of a candy bar.  Carob perhaps?  In point of fact, the plants apparently are edible and were used as a food source by native Americans, though it is presumeably without the intense flavour appeal of chocolate.  In bloom since February and still loaded with flowers, this is proving to be a very garden-worthy plant here.  Shown with friend...
berlandiera lyrata, chocolate flower, southwest native plant
Berlandiera is fragrant in the mornings, while citrusy Oenothera pallida "Innocence" continues to scent the air after nightfall, making it much harder to grab any pictures!

Other long-blooming fragrant plants include Salvia greggii "Autumn Moon"...
Salvia greggii, autumn moon, texas sage, autumn sage
...and now "Flame", which has been so woebegone that I transplanted it up into a shadier spot a couple of months ago.  It does look better now, a little less like a limp rag and more like Autumn Sage.  A few of its bright scarlet blooms are in evidence from time to time.  The scent of Salvia greggii is much more minty than culinary sage.  Both flowers and leaves seem to carry the same fragrance.
Salvia greggii, flame, autumn sage, texas sage
Another fragrant sage variety now in bloom is Salvia elegans, whose scent earns it the name of "pineapple" sage.
Salvia elegans, pineapple sage
Then there is Lavandula "Goodwin Creek Gray" thought to be a variety of L. dentata,  To my surprise, I watched a hummingbird feeding from these flowers the other afternoon; I had not seen her on the L. stoechas plants and had begun to assume that lavenders were not useful for the hummingbird garden.  Apparently, "Goodwin Creek Gray" was highly satisfactory to her as she came back for more.
Lavender, Goodwin Creek Gray, Lavandula
There is a light sweet fragrance from Armeria, which has not proven very happy here but continues to bloom for the time being...
...and, going from strength to strength, Cistanthe grandiflora.  Though I have to bury my nose in its cups to get the sweet fragrance, it is there!  The bees love it also, by the way.
Cistanthe grandiflora, Calandrinia grandiflora
That is a fairly complete listing for the month of May!  As weather has turned a bit wetter the past two days, the overriding scent is the wonderfully pungent tang of the wild creosote bushes (Larrea tridentata) covering most of the open land around us.  Creosote blooms in response to rains, so we will probably have a new flush of their little yellow flowers.  In the meantime, there were already plenty of furry seedballs on the plants.  I love the way the sunlight glows through them.
seeds, Larrea tridentata, creosote bush
Weather Diary: Mostly sunny, High: 83 F (28.3 C)/Low: 60 F (15.6 C)


  1. Oh wow, all of these flowers look wonderful - the roses are just standout. They really thrive in your climate!

    1. I'm thrilled with the roses, Matt! They've really enjoyed our bits of unseasonable rain lately too ;-)

  2. the fragrance in your garden must be wonderful, Amy! I don't think that roses would suit my seaside garden, but my next garden will have roses for sure ...

    1. I'm so enjoying having roses again, Ann! I've never gardened by the sea, but I understand rugosa rose hybrids such as Blanc Double de Coubert, Hansa, and Roseraie de l'Hay are well adapted to seaside conditions... Just a thought! :)

    2. thank you, Amy - I have noted these down for future reference :)

  3. I wish it was warm enough for some good scent here, alas - I'll have to wait. I love your descriptions of the various scents Amy. Diesel and Creosote - just what every garden needs :)

    1. LOL Angie :D The astonishing thing is that I love that "creosote" smell - it's really a fresh, bright smell, not like the real thing...! I suspect I'll end up not minding the Salvia reptans scent either. Wishing you some warm, pleasant weather for a while :)