Sweet scents add another sensory layer to the garden. Two of my three favourite scented flowers are blooming in the garden right now, Convallaria majalis (lily of the valley) and Syringa (lilac). The third, Paeonia (peonies), are still in the bud stage, but will soon be adding their delicious fragrance to the garden potpourri.
The perfume from the white bells of Convallaria majalis (lily of the valley) floats over this shady bed. They are getting cozy with Matteuccia struthiopteris (ostrich fern) in this photo. Lily of the valley get cozy with a lot of plants in the garden, but I forgive them this habit when they bloom with beauty and scent in the spring.
This Syringa vulgaris ‘Wedgewood Blue’ (wedegewood blue lilac) has an intoxicating scent, and its blooms are just as beautiful to observe. The blossoms are a light lavender blue colour, but unfortunately my shrub does not produce many. It is in a part sun location, so it could be that there is just not enough light to produce a multitude of buds. I’ve had it for 5 years, so I would think it’s old enough now to produce more. This shrub is a smaller lilac, growing to about 2 metres (6 feet) when mature. Mine is about 5 feet now. It is planted near my bedroom window; the plan being that the fragrance would drift through my open bedroom window as I fall asleep. There are not enough flowers for it to carry that far yet, but they smell beautiful when I sniff them at close range. I’m still hoping that eventually the scent will drift into the house too. Lilacs are a wonderful shrub to add fragrance to your garden. I have more information and photos about Syringa vulgaris ‘Wedgewood Blue‘ in this follow up post.
In this photo of the current peony bud, a ladybug looks on the hunt for aphids. I don’t know if it had a disagreement about this with the ant directly above it. I couldn’t observe it long enough to see who would win the rights to the peony bud territory.
Paeonia lactiflora ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ (Sarah Bernhardt peony) also produces a wonderful fragrance. It is in a part sun location, but it usually has many blooms, enough that the scent carries for a distance. This perennial is also planted near my bedroom window, but the smell does not waft through my window as planned either. It is definitely worth a walk to this area of the garden a few times a day when this plant is in bloom. I have to sniff its perfume, and observe its large pink overblown petals.
The flowers are so heavy that this peony needs a ring to keep it off the ground when in full bloom. I usually place a 2 tiered ring around it when it is about 30 cm (1 foot) tall. The one piece sturdy structure takes less than a minute to insert, and the foliage grows quickly to cover the support. This picture shows one side of the peony heavy with flowers from last year. Even in the part sun/shade exposure, this plant gets about 30 blossoms.
Peonies, lilacs and lily of the valley are 3 plants that will appeal to another sense in the garden, beyond their beauty. While strolling around, looking at the foliage and flowers (or more frequently bending over to pull a few weeds), I have a series of pleasant scents to enjoy.