De­li­cious, sweet scents

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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.

To find out where I am giv­ing gar­den talks, visit so­phies­ or fol­low me on In­sta­gram @so­phies­patch or Face­book So­phie Thom­son (pub­lic fig­ure)

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