Simple: because the air - the heavens - here are wonderfully, gently scented, with each breeze likely to bring a sweet floral or herbal scent, depending on the season, and where you are on the property. The gardens on all sides of the house are planted with herbs and scented flowers; the northeast field has extensive flower gardens. Those scents are brought indoors, in bouquets for the guest rooms and shared areas. Even when summer heat and Japanese beetles have conquered the flowers, there are scented herbs to gather. Some rather heavenly scents often come wafting from the kitchen as well!
The first flowers to bloom each year are unscented: camellia, forsythia, weeping cherry. But then the eleagnus on the borders of the orchard bloom, making early spring weeding and clearing there an absolute delight. Here is an overview of our scent garden spring to fall (written mid-2015).
Stock photo showing eleagnus. Two varieties are here: Russian olive with its spring bloom, around the center and western parts of the southern border, and Autumn olive by the peony garden. I love to place flowering sprigs in the front hall even though they shed terribly; the scent is just too good to miss.
The Lady Banks Rose on the arch near the front door launches the spring season of sweet flower scents, as far as visitors know - since the narcissus are usually finished before the guest season. Delicate, slightly lemony, Lady Banks fills the air because of the sheer number of blooms. It makes its annual glorious show in April.
While the Lady Banks is in bloom, the lilacs burst out. What a scent to fill the house with! There were a few lilacs when I came, and I planted 48 more, which are self-seeding and suckering into lovely dense lines. There can never be too many. By early May, they have most all finished for the year.
Before the lilacs finish, the bearded iris have started. There are a couple of dozen varieties, from the palest to the darkest, all with slightly different scents, but all unmistakably iris. Sweet! The iris bed was planted to be seen especially from the Sunroom Suite, and from the drive as one approaches.
Few visitors see where the peony garden is, but there are dozens of named varieties, early, mid and late season, single to fully double. Most are nicely scented, all are beautiful, and visitors in May are often stunned to see how many different forms of herbaceous peonies there are. Fabulous Mother's Day bouquets can be counted upon.
May also brings the first roses, with named rugosa varieties the first to bloom in the far garden; the rugosas near the fountain bloom a bit later, and continue till July in any case, longer if deadheaded - or else they all go to rose hips, which can be harvested for jam.
Brightening the view to the southeast, the rows of Philadelphus (mock orange) that I planted about 7 years ago burst into bloom in May. Mock orange is an appropriate name for the sweet white flowers. Not very successful in indoor bouquets, they are generally left in place, to scent the breeze and to be enjoyed when you walk the grounds.
June sees lavender blooming, and it will continue all season. The plants smell wonderful all year - you only need to walk among them, brushing the branches, to release their lovely fragrance. The ring of lavender around the northern weeping cherry stays humming with bees. And there is the bonus of thyme in profuse bloom alongside.
With the heat of summer comes the bloom of Confederate jasmine, almost sticky sweet on a summer night. It was fully in bloom by June 1 this year, and now in mid-July is still flourishing. It looks nice and trim on the arch over this bench; but just opposite, is constantly getting out of control opposite the Lady Banks. Cuttings, anyone?
The linden tree blooms last barely a week - less if rains batter the blossoms. But what a scent while it lasts! Dining on the screened porch or sitting on the north patio, the air suggests paradise.
True jasmine starts blooming in June as well, and continues off and on over summer. The tiny yellow flowers can't make a bouquet, but a few will be gathered anyway, put in miniature vases for an evening. I am not sure that jasmine has survived recent winters; must search for it in this wall of English ivy, forsythia and camellia.
Honeysuckle is rampant. I pile fallen and pruned branches along the property lines, and let honeysuckle cover the piles with green leaves and the sporadic blooms. From June till fall, there are periods of bloom when the scent is noted as soon as you arrive. I battle it as well, as it wants to overrun the forsythia, the raspberries, - well, basically everything, even the figs.
By mid June, gardenias should be blooming. The larger gardenia by the (breakfast) porch put out more blooms than ever this year - and it hasn't finished. But one little pot in front has the best-scented gardenia ever, a miniature variety that is pure, fruity, sweet in scent, my new favorite, no matter that the blooms aren't as attractive as the larger doubles.
June also brings magnolia blossoms, that are still opening in mid-July. The line of five old magnolias east of the house usually manage to put enough blossoms in reach for a magnolia to scent the entry, guest bathrooms, guest bedrooms, if wanted. The scent is delicate enough to please everyone, it seems.
From mid-June to the end of July, the Monarda (bee balm) is in bloom. We don't think of it for scented flowers - though the bees and butterflies find it irresistible - but the leaves are scented like bergamot. Rare to have a photo of it without a dozen butterflies.
Tea and shrub roses bloom all summer, but their best time here is really fall.
Summer brings the beautiful, unscented hydrangeas - which here are combined with scented roses and lilies, a great variety of which can be found all summer; I confess I often put sprigs of jasmine or honeysuckle into hydrangea bouquets.
I have such a weakness for Casablanca and other Oriental lilies! Such an overwhelming perfume, it's not for all tastes. Unfortunately, I've found they are very much to the taste of voles, so all I've planted in the ground over the years have disappeared, usually before any bloom. Now I put them in pots. And intend to make quite a ring of lily pots ... next year.
As other summer flowers fade away, roses step up in the fall, giving blooms into November. Here, with eucalyptus, now gone, from the back yard. When there are no presentable, cuttable scented flowers in the garden, I make bouquets of scented herbs. They may be lemony or fruity - as lemon balm, lemon verbena, apple mint, pineapple mint; or minty - spearmint, peppermint, chocolate mint; or various herbal scents such as fennel, rosemary, anise hyssop. A bit of rue, for its lovely flowers and leaves, might go into a bouquet with mint to cover the scent; with yarrow, not a scent I care for, I usually add a lot of lemon balm.