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Scented Sensations

It’s lilac time. That unmistakable fragrance is in the air. Why are so many of the spring blooming flowers sweetly scented? It must be nature’s way of rewarding us for making it through the long hard winter.

Lilac stems are a very popular cut flower. It’s easy to see why. The delicate fragrance and the delicately colored blooms are distinctive.

Flowering stems of daphne are another favorite cut flower. I recommend the February daphne, an early-flowering shrub. Despite the name, the blooms usually open in March and April. The stems are covered with purple or lilac blooms. In rare cases, they may be white.

Magnolias are the most regal of the delicately scented spring flowers. With their classic shape and jewel tones of white, pink, and pinkish-purple, these woody stems are so elegant. Be aware that their vase life will be very short. Then the petals will begin to fall just as they would if they stems were left on the tree.

Though all daffodils aren’t scented, let’s recognize those that are. The short, smaller-flowered ones are often fragrant. These are usually grown in rock gardens. We are most familiar with the yellow daffodils. But the scented ones may also be cream, white, and orange. ‘Katie Heath” is a bicolor in yellow and salmon. It features a refreshing citrus-like scent.

In late spring we welcome the distinctive blooms of the sweet pea. When possible, look for scented ones, such as ‘Old Spice.”

Tulips refuse to be outdone when it comes to fragrance. These include the pastel ‘Apricot Beauty’ tulip.

Lily-of-the-valley is noted for its delightful, sweet fragrance. Because the stems are so short, you may want to float them in a shallow glass bowl.

Snowdrops are much appreciated because they bloom so early. Usually the flowers are white. Like the lily-of-the-valley, the stems are short. But they are still suitable for certain arrangements.

If you’re looking for spectacular color and fragrance, one particular iris has it. Iris reticulate flowers are purple with a touch of yellow and white on the throat. The sturdy stems are four to six inches tall. Its fragrance is reminiscent of violets.

Speaking of violets, what other spring flower smells so sweet? Available in
various colors, these are a favorite for nosegays and flower garlands.

The smell of spring is definitely in the air. These spring flowers say it is so.

For more information on fragrant trees and shrubs, I refer you to a magnificent book from Firefly, "Trees and Shrubs for Fragrance" by Glyn Church. This is part of Firefly's new Woody Plant Series, which includes "Trees and Shrubs for Flowers," and "Trees and Shrubs for Foliage."

Illustrated in full color, these easy to use books have comprehensive directories of plants.

“Look to the perfumes of flowers for peace of mind and joy of life,” said Wang Wei, Chinese philosopher in the eighth-century.


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