August 18, 2013

Maine Gardener: Best in bloom? The nose knows

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The bee balm, or monarda, was also in bloom with a nice, spicy fragrance on red flowers that are favored by butterflies and hummingbirds. We also have bee balm in a pale lavender and a bright pink, but the traditional red "Jacob Cline" shows off best.

The cimicifuga has a rich and fruity fragrance. Some phlox are fragrant; some are not.

While most hostas are planted for their foliage, they do produce flowers -- some of which are more attractive than others. And some of those have a nice fragrance.

There are all sorts of herbs, including lavender, sage, catmint, rosemary and thyme, that provide a smorgasbord of smells.

And Russian sage, which isn't quite an herb, is just coming into bloom, but its foliage has the scent that is almost sage but more exotic.

Some day lilies are fragrant, but not all of them. And even with the ones that are fragrant, you have to get quite close to them to detect the aroma.

Roses are blooming well, and many of them are fragrant, even some of the newer, disease-resistant varieties.

While we have some lilies next to our back door for their fragrance, there is another flower that we have there for its fragrance as well. Hyacinth used to be the most popular spring-blooming bulb in America, but it fell out of favor and was overtaken by tulips and daffodils.

But there is nothing like having the fragrance of hyacinth to greet you in early spring after a long winter. It is one of the signs that it is time to get out in the garden.

Tom Atwell has been writing the Maine Gardener column since 2004. He is a freelance writer gardening in Cape Elizabeth and can be contacted at 767-2297 or at:


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