July Tips from the Wedgwood Garden Club

Madame Cecile Brunner Roses

Jacqueline Houston is a member of the Wedgewood Garden Club, and also a Master Gardener of King County. She has been gardening in Seattle for over 30 years. Wedgewood Garden Club always welcomes new members – contact Jacqueline at tppoems@comcast.net for more information on our monthly meetings.

Nothing beats sitting out on your deck or patio in summer and breathing in the delicious fragrance of the scented plants you have thoughtfully planted around your favorite seating area.

Of course, not all fragrances are created equal. I recently saw a list of plants recommended for fragrance that included the Iceberg rose, a perfectly nice white rose that does indeed have a bit of fragrance if you stick your nose in it, but a good carrying fragrance – one that does all the work for you and arrives at your nose without any effort on your part – is harder to find.

Two shrubs lead the pack in this regard – Star Jasmine (zone 8 – see March column) a short, evergreen climbing vine that sadly dies on me in colder winters, but appears quite happy in many other people’s gardens; and Summer Flowering Daphne, which many people do not know about judging from the remarks of visitors to my garden tour last week. Like the winter-flowering daphne it is an evergreen shrub that ultimately grows to about 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide, and pours forth a torrent of fragrance via its small white flowers for about a month at a time in April, June, and August or thereabouts. It seems to like part-shade, is hardier than the winter daphne but hates to be moved, and has various named varieties like Summer Ice and Eternal Fragrance, all of which appear to do well.

Butterfly bushes (buddleia) get a lot of bad press because the wild form seeds everywhere, but the named varieties that I have in my garden, such as Pink Perfection, Black Knight, and a variegated (white and green leaved) form do not seed and never have and I absolutely love them. Around July they make small spires of flowers (light or dark pink, light or dark purple) that have a rich odor that I can only describe as warm and velvety, and the yellow and black swallowtail butterflies share my delight in them. Seattle nurseries now only carry miniaturized and rather expensive ones (still smell fantastic!), but Flower World still carries the original ones, which can grow to 10 feet or can be pruned to be shorter.

Now for those roses that actually qualify as strongly fragrant in my book. I have many old roses in my garden as well as some new, but my absolute favorite ones for carrying fragrance are Madame Cecile Brunner, Jacques Cartier, Lavender Lassie, and Lyda Rose, and I have two or three of each to maximize the scent. The fragrance increases, of course, as the number of blooms increases with age and maturity. Cecile Brunner comes either as a tall rambling rose (mine) or a bush, and its June flowering in my front yard is now so powerfully potent I can actually smell it from one house up the street.

One summer bulb also makes the cut – Lilium Regale or the regal lily, whose beautiful trumpets of white and purple send their fragrance creeping through my open front door in the evening even if I am inside. Plant several! And enjoy.

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