Fragrant favourites

I am ashamed to say that I have almost ignored ‘Katherine Havermeyer’ this year with so much else going on. She is one of the oldest plants in the garden and is flowering for the third year and is really looking rather good. I know that not everyone admires lilacs but I am pleased with how she has done and appreciate the rather heavy heads of fragrant double blooms. This is an old, French, Lemoine hybrid dating back to 1920. Like all lilacs, it is best, if possible, to snap or snip off the old flowers as they fade and along with any weak shoots. No other pruning is needed.

I barely dare to mention my other lilac because of the topically unfavourable name. ‘Beauty of Moscow’ (‘Krasavitsa Moskvy’) is actually even lovelier. The double flowers are silvery lilac in bud but open to white, but not the cold white of most others. It is very fragrant, better than the above and already, in its second summer in the ground, it is producing some blooms.

I mentioned, yesterday, that I had been on a plant-buying spree Friday. One of the new plants that had to come back with me was Rhododendron atlanticum ‘Snowbird’. This hybrid of R. atlanticum has blue/green leaves and a compact habit. It is said to need moist soils and full sun which is a worry but, after some immediate losses, all my other deciduous ‘azaleas’ have settled down. These particular plants were on a bench I walked past and it was not the rather small, slender blooms that grabbed my attention but the perfume. It smells like the very best of these azaleas with a ‘cold cream’, sweet scent with a hint of cucumber – I adore it. I am off down the road tomorrow to sweep up the fallen leaves beside the road – they should be fairly composted by now – to help make this plant as comfortable as possible.

Just to show that some plants actually do survive being planted, here is ‘Soir de Paris’ an ‘azalea’ that was planted two years ago. I have a dozen or so in the garden and this is definitely my favourite. I love the sugar pink flowers and it is wonderfully fragrant too.

One other plant I had to get, and I have been thinking about it for years, is Daphne ‘Eternal Fragrance’. I have grown it before and I have to admit that it is not absolutely brilliant, in my opinion, and the scent is rather dull compared to the rhododendrons above. It is valuable because it is a fairly tough plant and actually does flower for many months. It is now in the raised beds next to where a bench will be placed on some decking – one day. Maybe the daphne will still be in bloom when that happens!

4 Comments on “Fragrant favourites”

  1. Diane
    May 15, 2022 at 11:07 am #

    I love your running commentary on all your plants, particularly your New Zealand patch and when you mention wonderful different varieties of olearia available in Ireland. But I wonder if you consider livestock or pets or kids in your plant choices as today I notice you extolling the virtues of a load of plants that are toxic and poisonous – lilacs, rhododendrons etc…. fine if you have an enclosed garden somewhere and no livestock, pets or children can ever get access, or the poisonous plant (many of them pretty deadly) never spreads itself anywhere else. I spend half my life identifying plants to see if they could be toxic if my sheep, dog, cat or grandkids were ever to take a nibble. Afaik, olearias and most other varieties I have are just fine, no toxins! But, I just wondered, is it a consideration when you’re buying plants?

    • thebikinggardener
      May 15, 2022 at 11:25 am #

      You raise a good point. My garden is enclosed, though I had early problems with rabbits. I do have a cat but she doesn’t eat many plants apart from grass. I did have an issue with her eating a rather coarse-leaved sedge that upset her once. I do not have a problem with children either although my personal opinion that education is the right way to go and i would not avoid plants that are poisonous unless they were tempting to eat – foxgloves are poisonous but I can’t really see a child chomping on the foliage. Likewise, I do not think that lilacs or rhododendrons are a serious threat to pets or wildlife – in fact I have seen lilacs mentioned as edible. Dogs are a different matter of course and I might be more careful if I had dogs or unattended children in the garden. I also appreciate the problem of seeding around but I am surrounded by a field that is dense grass, harvested for silage and there is little chance of anything seeding into that. So, to answer, I do not really consider whether plants are poisonous to livestock when buying. I do grow lilies but am careful to deadhead them so the pollen does not fall to the ground where the cat might get it. double and pollenless varieties would sort this issue. My main considerations are whether I like the plants, if they would survive and if they are beneficial to wildlife. So I plant for a long season of bloom and berries. I have planted single-flowered crataegus rather than double, to help wildlife. Although the area is rural, the surrounding areas are not rich in wildlife and the garden is becoming an oasis for wildlife (especially bees and birds) as it gets established.

  2. Dee
    August 11, 2022 at 8:03 am #

    I think I was thinking ‘laburnum’ or ‘wild iris’ when I read ‘lilac’ for some reason. So you’re right, lilacs are fine. My pet lambs were, probably still are, devils, for nibbling on everything they could find. However, they’re all now all healthy and well grown, almost ewes, so they managed not to poison themselves. Some plants like laurels and a St Johns Wort had to be dug up and moved elsewhere but all seem to have survived luckily! Some plants needed to be saved from their voracious appetites too – they almost demolished my comfrey, mallows, olearia, weigela, fancy cream leafed poplar, my strawberry plants and many others but I think they’ve recovered from the onslaught. Thanks! 😀

    • thebikinggardener
      August 11, 2022 at 9:05 am #

      That would make sense I am glad the lambs survived all the trials and have grown up. That is an interesting list of plants that they favoured.

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