One whiff of fragrant plants in winter and I’m transported far beyond the gray and white landscape outside my windows. The exotic aromas, redolent of the tropics, develop fully when captured within the enclosed walls of a greenhouse or sunroom.
But I don’t want clashes of strong scents – think how your nose reacts when you walk by a department store perfume aisle. I want to enjoy my fragrances singly. I’d like a succession of blooming plants so I can appreciate each fragrance alone. I asked Laurelynn Martin, Vice President and co-owner of Logee’s Tropical Plants (www.logees.com) for suggestions that will carry me from now to next summer.
But first, a note on strong odors: the perception of perfume is highly individualized. Other than those flowers that smell like rotting meat, I’ve never met an aromatic plant I didn’t like. However I’m aware of a small but vocal gardening minority who hates certain scents described below. Conduct your own sniff tests.
Jasmine polyanthum – January- March, intermittent blooms year-round.
We start off with the heavy and full-bodied jasmine fragrance that wafts from this climbing vine. It celebrates the New Year with a shower of pink buds that open to white. The finely cut foliage contrasts well with larger, more tropical looking leaves in greenhouse displays. It is often sold as a hanging basket, but can be installed on a sturdy trellis- if it’s happy, it will romp.
Citrus myrtifolia – late winter
Next comes an orange-blossom scent. A multitude of fragrant white blossoms are followed by one-inch bitter fruits that keep their tangerine-orange color for months. Commonly called “chinotto,” this slow-growing glossy leafed thornless citrus is a perfect container candidate-sometimes a bonsai subject. Outdoors in Zones 9-11, it can grow 10-20 feet, but inside, judicious pruning keeps it a reasonable size.
Jasmium sambac ‘Maid of Orleans’, spring to fall, intermittent
Now we get the sweet scent of the Philippines” national flower. Also used in making Hawaiian leis, the blossoms open in the evening-a bonus after a busy day. The flowers last 24 hours and are quickly replaced by others. Because it blooms on the tip ends, you can encourage dense growth by pruning it into a rounded shrub. Also performs as a vine.
Murraya paniculata – late spring through summer
Last to arrive is a combination orange-blossom/jasmine scent, emanating from orange jessamine, an evergreen shrub. It puts out white half-inch bell-shaped blooms,followed by small handsome red fruit. # # # #