Delicious, sweet scents
Ilove to have scented flowers in my garden all year round, and while it’s pretty hard to pick a favourite, there are definitely favourite scents in each season.
In summer it’s the butterfly bushes (Buddleja), Chilean jasmine (Mandevilla laxa), Chinese star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) and night scented jessamine (Cestrum nocturnum).
In autumn it’s the scent of belladonnas or naked ladies (Amaryllis belladonna), autumn crocus (Sternbergia and Zephyranthus) and camellia sasanqua.
In winter it’s Daphne, winter sweet (Chimonanthus praecox), Winter Honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima) and wallflowers (Cheiranthus).
In spring, it’s wisteria, freesias, lilac, the first flush of new season roses and last but by no means least, sweet peas which can start blooming in winter and go through until the heat hits in spring.
Sweet peas would rank as a favourite flower and scent for many people and now is the time to be sowing these wonderful annuals for delicious sweet scents in spring. There is a strong link between scents, memories and emotional responses and each time I get a waft of their delightful scents I get a warm happy feeling which reminds me of my childhood.
These delightful annuals are easy to grow and reward you for many weeks with a stunning show of flowers in the garden, as well as bunches of beautiful flowers which last well as cut flowers, allowing you to bring their delicious sweet scent inside. They are abundant bloomers and I love the fact I can pick bunches of flowers for myself and still have plenty to share with friends.
As with many plants, there are traditions associated with when we plant them, and with sweet peas in South Australia we sow around St Patrick’s Day (March 17).
If the weather is still hot, it’s worth waiting a few weeks. Having said this, I am often running late, and in years past have sown them a month or two later and still had good results.
There are dwarf varieties which grow to 25-60cm high and are perfect for garden beds or pots, and climbing varieties that can get to 2-3m high. I like to grow the climbers on panels of builder’s mesh, over arches or other garden structures, and over tripods of tall garden stakes. Their flower colours range from white through every shade of pink, mauve and purple, blue and red. There are also many different bicolours, or ones with shaded lips and some also have different coloured veining.
Nurseries and garden centres have a great range available now.
It is generally recommended that they are sown directly into moist soil where they will grow, however they can also be transplanted successfully from punnets.
They are a largish hard seed and many people recommend you soak them overnight in water before sowing them, yet others sow directly into moist soil. If the soil is too moist however they can rot and fail to germinate. They grow best in full sun in well drained but reasonably fertile soil enriched with compost or aged animal manures and a handful of pelletised chicken manure-based fertiliser.
These annuals shoot 10-14 days after planting and then usually bloom in winter and into spring within 10 weeks. Hot weather in mid to late spring finishes the plants off and I try and make sure I save seed of my favourites for the following year.
My favourite variety is one called ‘Matucana’ which is an heirloom variety, reputed by many to have the strongest scent of any of the sweet peas. It has striking bicolour purple and cerise flowers however they have smaller dainty flowers and shorter stems than many of the new cultivars.
Their blooms smother the plant adding colour and scent to your garden however I still like to pick bunches of its blooms for low vases in my house. It can be picked daily for many weeks depending on the weather and their flowering season is extended if you pick spent blooms and don’t let them go to seed. This oldfashioned variety even self-seeds in my garden and comes up by itself where I have planted it in previous years without me having to replant it.
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