Favorite Fragrance in the Garden

harmonypMay 16, 2012

What is your favorite fragrance in the garden. If it's a rose, which one? For me, while I LOVE my fragrant roses, it is Japanese Honeysuckle that has my heart for fragrance. I have 3 of them, the one I placed the best is on the porch steps leading up to the house. So I get a huge waft of fragrance everytime I go in or out of the house, from spring through fall. It makes my knees weak. What about you?

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seil zone 6b MI

Oh, that's a hard one, harmony. There are several roses that could vie for best fragrance. Reine des Violettes, Golden Celebration and Double Delight are all contenders. But then there are the lilacs that just finished off and the peonies are blooming right now and they smell wonderful too!

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 10:14PM
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Lilac! Two are flowering (one STILL since late October!). Secret Garden Must Rambler..sweet, soapy, carries well on the air. My Hugonis hybrid..dusty, sweet, intense and "wild". The "Nobel Fir with hardwood smoke" of the new growth, peduncles and sepals of R. Fedtschenkoana. Foliage of Salvia clevelandii "Winifred Gilman" after I water, I can smell it across the yard. The sweetness of all the Caesalpinia mexicana flowers dotting the western hill. It's hard to stop! Kim

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 11:18PM
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petaloid(SoCal 10a/24)

I love honeysuckle too, and some other favorites are cherry-pie heliotrope, wisteria, gardenias, star jasmine, bearded irises and sweet peas.

As for rose fragrances, there are lots I enjoy including Sombreuil, Gemini, Mister Lincoln, French Lace, Secret, Graham Thomas, Cecile Brunner and so many more.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 11:23PM
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As tough as I first thought this question might be, for me it is simple. I have a big bush of The Prince. My bush is on fortuniana root stock. Big and full and covered in blooms. This bush is right under our master bedroom window. From spring through fall, this window is never closed all the way. The fragrance is simply outstanding. I have a lot of roses that smell great but I always remember The Prince instantly.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 11:25PM
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lovemysheltie(5/6 Chicago)

Gardenia, Ginger Lily and Michelia Figo! I moved to the US from India 12 years ago :) I can't grow any of these in my Chicago garden :( but I have great memories and really enjoy when I visit home. In my US garden, I grow hyacinths, lilies, roses for the fragrance but the tropicals will always be my favorites!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 12:08AM
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Thank you lovemysheltie! I'd nearly forgotten the Michelia champaca at a nursery I worked in years ago. 36" boxed, easily ten feet tall planted and flowered nearly year round at the beach. Banana, Gardenia, Pineapple, Ginger and heaven knows what else and that scent carried all over the parking area. Amazing! Thanks for reminding me. Kim

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 12:13AM
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betsyw(NSW Aust)

Ah, lovemysheltie, the grass is always greener:))) I love my White Butterfly Ginger Lily, my gardenias, my jasmines sambac and nitidum, but what wouldn't I give to once again be enveloped by the fragrant pine and balsam fir of the North....

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 12:51AM
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Kippy(SoCal zone 10. Sunset Zone 24)

Citrus, hands down my favorite fragrance in the garden. The grapefruit is incredible.

I love driving hwy 126 when orange orchards are in bloom, it is worth pulling over and opening the windows basking in it a bit.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 3:26AM
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Tuberose. I didn't really like the smell of Tuberose at the start, but now it's one of my favorite smell in the garden thanks to my mother who planted heaps of them in her garden.
I also enjoy the smell of Christmas lilies (longiflorum) .
As for roses, I enjoy the smell of Sharifa Asma and Gertrude Jekyll.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 6:57AM
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betsyw(NSW Aust)

Tuberose :sigh: How could I forget tuberose? I am addicted to the fragrance of this otherwise indifferent-looking stalky craetufre. For some reason black-thumb related, I can't ever them to grow en masse. If only some hybriser would breed a rose that smelled like TR, Id be bashing down the door to buy a 100 of 'em.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 7:13AM
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Ooo, this is turning into a fun read. Thank you! Kim, your first post also making my knees weak - please don't stop!!! Lilac - ahhh yes, I planted a new Lavendar Lady last fall, and had about 3 weeks with 5 lilacs this year. Was heaven. Looking forward to many more in the future - my most memorable garden fragrance from my NY childhood was from purple lilac trees. Then, Tuberose - oh thank you so much for reminding me I have a surprise still coming this year. I planted 3 last year, and again - short period of fragrance ecstasy, but the 3 bulbs so much bigger this year and just starting to come up. And how could I forget a blooming citrus - our lemon tree in bloom is another heaven scent. And I'll just stomp for a minute about not being able to grow gardenias - I've tried 6 now, and I give up. Pout (but smiling about everything else!) And I think The Prince will be on my list as a replacement rose for something. Please keep going. There is something about luscious, sumptious fragrances that, even just thinking about them causes a chemical reaction.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 10:33AM
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seil zone 6b MI

Lol, this is fun! My apple trees perfume the whole yard when they're in bloom. And the oriental lilies are wonderful too but they haven't bloomed here yet.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 10:59AM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

So many: lavender, Brunfelsia, orange blossoms, star jasmine, 'Eugene de Beauharnais', 'Golden Celebration', 'Firefighter', the sharp clove of 'Secret Garden Musk Climber', Lily, Iris, common Myrtle, Salvia discolor, Brugmansia on a warm summer night, and on and on. Every entry in the garden has a fragrant plant, so I can pause and sniff as I open and close the gate.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 11:01AM
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ingrid_vc so. CA zone 9

I live next door to an orange grove and the scent at certain times is overwhelming, for some reason even more wonderful in the evening and at night. In my garden La France is exquisite as is Deuil de Dr. Reynaud. Coquette de Blanches is also sublime. Julio Iglesias, Charles Darwin and The Dark Lady are also lovely.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 11:39AM
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lou_texas(8a N Central TX)

Kim, which lilacs do you grow in a So. Cal. garden that need no long cold period? I've always wanted some that liked Texas. I took pieces of my mom's lilacs from Missouri to Texas several times, but they never thrived enough to bloom so finally, I tossed them out in favor of more roses. Lou

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 1:39PM
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Brittie - La Porte, TX 9a

I have a row of gardenia in the backyard, and those drive me crazy. I also have a row of sweet olive bushes in the front, and I really love those too.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 2:48PM
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I think if more of use walked around our roses, gently rubbing the new growth tips, flower buds and peduncles, we would discover some amazing scents already in our gardens. The same scent glands which give the OGRs and Mosses their amazing plant scents, exist on many other roses of all classes. If you have a fresh, succulent sucker of Dr. Huey on a bush how, visit it when the sun is just warming the garden and the humidity high. The fresher and softer the growth tips the better. Rub it and smell the wonderful scent it can provide. Ralph Moore's Pink Clouds had a strong pine scent from the new growth tips a while ago.

Mutabilis has that sweet, peppery scent to the peduncles and growth tips as do many China and near China roses. Pookah has a strong multiflora herbal scent to its buds and flowering growth. Get out and sniff these rose parts early in the morning. They are wonderful!

Other plant foliage not thought of as fragrant can provide them, too. Prunus caroliniana (Carolina Cherry) new, soft foliage when crushed smells like strong cherry. It's as intense a fragrance as some of the citrus foliage expresses. You can frequently tell what kind of citrus a tree is by the scent of the crushed foliage, newer, softer being the most intensely fragrant. I have a self seedling of Burbank's Apex Plumcot in a pot being trained as a bonsai. New foliage of that smelled like cherry this morning.

We all know Bay Leaf from cooking, but MANY other plants already in your gardens have foliage and plant scents which are rich and powerful, you probably haven't noticed. Try what's out there. Myrtus communis compacta, Dwarf Myrtle, is actually a component of iconic, scented shampoos. It's been used as an herbal hair rinse for dark hair since ancient times. Even without flowers, most of us already have "scratch and sniff" gardens and some of those scents can be amazing! Kim

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 3:02PM
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Jasmine sambac has to be one of my favorites. It seems to love our heat and blooms all summer, wonderfully fragrant, very easy to grow. My citrus trees in the spring are incredibly fragrant. My star jasmine is huge and blooms for about 3 weeks in the spring. I do like the smell of crushed leaves of my bay laurel tree (is that the correct name?).

Kim, I have tried 2 or 3 times to grow a Michelia Champaca tree here but both died during our horrendous summer heat. That plant is one I truly wish I could grow in my climate.

My roses, of course: SDLM, ZD, Catharine Mermet, and many others.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 3:28PM
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peachymomo(Ca 8)

Ohhh, what a great discussion!

I'm another whose heart has been stolen by the scent of the Japanese Honeysuckle, mine is having it's first large bloom since I planted it and every time I'm near it I have to linger to enjoy the intoxicating fragrance.

But there are so many others that I love too, and right now their scents are all mixing together in my Mother's patio area to create a blended perfume that is spectacular. Along with the Honeysuckle we have a Meyer Lemon and some Jasmine, and then there are the roses, of which I can never choose a favorite: Mr. Lincoln, Glenora from Portland, Marchioness of Lorne, Ulrich Brunner, Marchessa Boccella, Secret Garden Musk Climber, and Sombreuil together have enough fragrance for it to waft, a hard effect to achieve in our dry California climate.

Reading this post makes me want to create another list of plants that I want to have some day, and others that I've never smelled and must find and experience - like the tuberose. What fun!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 3:34PM
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I brought my standard every other day bouquet of roses into work today, which includes my very first Young Lycidas bloom. It is CRAZY WONDERFUL. I can barely concentrate.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 3:37PM
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I know the misery of not being able to grow Michelia champaca! They have them at our local garden center but they require a much deeper, damper soil without the gophers and moles with much more water than I can give them! You'd probably have to keep it potted and heavily pruned to produce more branch tips and more flowers. You'd probably also have to bury it within the branches of a larger, denser shrub to increase the humidity, reduce the heat and direct sun to make it happy. Misting it daily would probably help, too. The boxed one I fell madly in lust with was two blocks from the surf at the beach and it was truly happy! All it takes is one flower to make a believer out of you! Amazing scent! Kim

Here is a link that might be useful: Michelia champaca

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 4:27PM
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Campanula UK Z8

bah, me neither. I have never come across Michelia champaca but have craved a Michelia doltsopa since seeing one growing in the South West UK. Sadly, my thin alkaline soil is never going to support one (I can just about manage a Magnolia stellata)
However, I must concur with the Japanese honeysuckle fans - the fragrance is so utterly evocative - I would never be without it.
For me, the ephemeral spring fragrances from primula, jonquilla narcissi, wintersweet, bluebells, and mezereum are peerless.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 4:59PM
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lovemysheltie(5/6 Chicago)

Hehe. Well, all of you who love michelias are welcome to come visit my grandma's garden in Mumbai, should you ever be in that part of the world. Be prepared to take a whiff and then drop in a dead faint :D

Ingrid, you live next to an orange grove? Wow, I am jealous :)

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 5:50PM
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Eucalyptus blossom scent can be very overpowering, too. When the blamed things start to flower here, evenings become unbearable. There's a period when the scent is so strong, it's nearly bitter, like stuffing your face in a bouquet of fresh Star Gazer lilies. Many areas here in the San Fernando Valley were originally citrus groves and a number of the old grove trees exist in yards. Since citrus grows so well, many have been planted by homeowners and they can get rather strong when the air is still and damp enough. Kim

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 6:31PM
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If only some hybriser would breed a rose that smelled like TR...

Did you know that Estee Lauder has a perfume spray called, 'Tuberose Gardenia,' and the smell is almost identical to the real thing? Just recently, I bought this perfume for my mother for Mother's Day so that I could enjoy the smell too whenever she's around. :) It's quite expensive though. $130AUD for a 30mL bottle. At least, I don't have to wait for Tuberose to bloom.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 7:10PM
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betsyw(NSW Aust)

jumbojimmy, you have hit paydirt with that Estee Lauder find. I'm going to have a whiff next week at David Jones (the Bloomingdales of Oz).$130 for 30ml isn't nearly as bad as the ridiculous price I pay for Shalimar - just for the privilege of wearing synthetic vanilla. (Vanilla - now there's a fragrance that's almost erotic)

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 7:27PM
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In the order in which they bloom: Daphne, Lily of the Valley, Gardenia and (not in the garden, but in containers) Stephanotis.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 9:18PM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

Among roses, the scent of musk is the queen, for me -- though I do enjoy a damasky scent, too.

I agree with Kippy -- the citrus in full bloom out along 126 will just knock you out -- Pray God we don't lose that to huanglongbing disease (Citrus Greening).

Also memorable -- the never-to-be-forgotten fragrance of the strawberry fields, along Hwy 101 through Camarillo, in High Summer; and the scent of Clevelandia salvia which I can enjoy only in limited doses.


    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 9:39PM
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Sweet Autumn Clematis for me....

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 10:06PM
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I live on 100+ acres and most fragrances are defused somewhat except when you are up close and personal! LOL... I love rose scents no matter how slight they may be, the purple iris that smell like grape "Kool Aid", the wild honeysuckles that grow near the edge of the yard are intoxicating, the huge Mountain Mint patch that I mow into just so I can smell it---but for me--My favorite fragrance of all is the sweet smell of honey! I have 10 hives and I can smell the honey from 50ft away! NOTHING makes my heart pitter/patter like the smell of liquid gold!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 10:52PM
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My favorite is of course rose. I like best any damask/citrus combination.
Pink Peace
Chrysler Imperial
Sterling Silver

All these roses were my first. I loved them for the trememdous perfume and they are still highest on my list. Then I bought

Sonia Rykiel
Amazing Grace
La France
Souv. M.
Memorial Day
Lemon Spice
Love Potion
Rouge Royale

I think they all have great citrus influenced scent as well and then there's a whole group of roses like Jude the Obscure that are complex and wonderful in their own way and tough to categorize.

The roses I could recognize blindfolded would be Pink Peace, Jude the Obscure, Autumn Damask, Double Delight, Sterling Silver ( has a hint of fruit like Jude) and Love Potion which to me is like Angel Face but fruitier.

Sometimes I just like a hint of pretty scent. The breeze wafting tangerine blossoms or the sweet olive. The sweet violets under the peach tree and white hawaiian ginger at night. I like stocks and gardenias and tuberoses. Sweet Peas and honeysuckle. There is also the fragrance of Banana Shrub that is wonderful and delicate. Some of the newer Camellias bred for fragrance are very nice in a fragile way.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 11:48PM
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I enjoy many of the scents people have listed here, will add pinks and their clove scent, freshly mown grass and hay, which is making now, and the wafting roses. I've been out in the garden a lot in the last few days, and sometimes I'll get a wave of soft fragrance and there, a rose or two away, will be 'Cornelia' or 'Felicia', looking demure. 'Jaune Desprez' spreads its scent around, so does 'Moonlight', and to my surprise 'Vanity' with its sweet China scent wafts as well.
Our local wild honeysuckle is Lonicera caprifolium. It has a soft, sweet fragrance, different from the lemony Japanese honeysuckle, and part of the local array of scents.
I want every fragrance people have listed here, and have a fair number of them. But part of the character of a particular place is its odors. Probably it's just as well that the hills of Piacenza don't smell like southern California.
Nice thread!
P.S. Can it be that no one has yet mentioned wisteria?

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 12:37AM
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Campanula UK Z8

Betsy, I don't know if you are able to buy Penhaligon scents in Oz but they are, by far and away, the best floral perfumiers I have ever come across. Their English bluebell (which is acytually made from hyacinth and cyclamen) is stunningly identical to an english bluebell wood. Night scented stocks, tuberose (too strong for me), lily of the valley, gardenia....are all made from pure plant essences and are quite thrillingly different from most modern fragrances. Needless to say, they have several rose types, including musk and eglantine.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 7:15AM
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JessicaBe(5-6 Central Ohio)

We had peonies growing on the side of the yard when we first moved it 5 ish years ago and well they smelled incredible, they smell like my grandma did and I miss her. The peonies have been moved down ever year since then. I tried really hard to save them by digging them up but it is in rock hard dirt... I am going to try again in the fall.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 7:51AM
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JessicaBe(5-6 Central Ohio)

i meant mowed down not moved...

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 8:03AM
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Scent--not always sweet!--is something I put great value on in the garden . . . Here are some favorites (in some, the scent is in the leaf rather than the flower):

Camellia 'Shishigashira'

Centratherum intermedium

Gladiolus carinatus

Hyacinth varieties

Iris pallida 'Dalmatica'

Roses 'Chrysler Imperial', 'Columbine', 'Desprez a Fleur Jaune', 'Devoniensis', 'Duchesse d'Angouleme', 'Leprechaun', 'Mrs. B.R. Cant', 'Souvenir de la Malmaison', 'Will Scarlet' (this last one doesn't have much scent in the individual blossom; but, in mass bloom, a unique and delightful perfume wafts over the garden...it might be the pollen's scent)

Ruta odorata

Thymus mastichina (and numerous other resinous-scented members of the Lamiaceae)

The scents of a new-mown lawn, and of aging leaf litter, are also really quite wonderful . . .

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 12:14PM
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cambel(z6-7a DC)

I just love the scent of Blue Girl or Magnolia Trees

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 7:04PM
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Eucalyptus citradora makes me think of my grade school that I loved on the UCI campus. We had great big California pepper trees there too that trailed on the ground and we would play under them hidden away. The big fields of mustard would grow tall and we would hide under the yellow flowers above. It's all gone now with buildings and parking lots instead of cow and horse pastures but when I smell the plants somewhere, I think of my school and the amazing people who taught us.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 8:43PM
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I also like to include plants that help me remember my childhood. For instance, yellow daffodils and wattle.
Wattle is a tree which flowers in late winter and spring and it produces a mass of fragrant, fluffy, golden flowers. The smell makes me think of my primray school years where everything was simple and stress-free.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 10:37PM
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Mendocino_Rose(z8 N CA.)

I can't believe that no one mentioned Philadelphus.
There is a reblooming Daphne that blooms all spring and summer. I can't think of the proper name. It doesn't look anything like the spring blooming Daphne.
One thing I discovered last fall was the fall scent of the Katsura tree. It smells just like cooking strawberry jam wafting on the breeze.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 10:20AM
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thahalibut(Z-9 CA, SSZ-9)

Brugmansia!! Its a must have if you love fragrance in the garden. Its has the strongest & sweetest smelling blooms I have ever smelled.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 3:13PM
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I'm going out of my mind (easy for me to do) trying to figure out what this tree is that I have. I want to name it here because for about 1 month in spring it permeates the air everywhere on my property with the most magnificent fragrance. Huge tree, 1 leaf stem has multiple small leave groups with 1 leave apiece at the end, then they go to 5 leaves, then 7 leaves then connect with other same groups. Flowers are larger than lilacs but less bulky with similar fragrance - a lavendar/pinkish color. Seeds are absolutely distinctive, round hard as rock, and about the size of a dime in diameter. The seeds are grouped on the tree, but drop individually. It makes a horrible mess, and walking over the seeds is like skating on unsteady roller skates. When I first moved here I couldn't figure out where that fragrance was coming from. Took a while to figure out to look up!

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 7:38PM
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Aha - forgot the phone camera. What is this (best fragrance all April!!!)

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 8:18PM
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karl_bapst_rosenut(5a, NW Indiana)

In order of appearance in my garden, Lilacs, peonies, followed by the many hybrid rugosas that bloom from mid May through fall.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 11:13PM
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I love the various scents of roses, but my favorite flower scent is lilac. No contest.

But even more than lilac, and this is kind of a garden scent, I love line-dried cotton. No scent in the world brings me more pleasure. My clothes dryer doesn't get much use since I've rediscovered this intoxication.


    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 11:43PM
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