I am excited to teach a class this Thursday night through Umpqua Community College on Successful Hanging Baskets! There is so much to teach, and I am looking forward to sharing lots of great advice I have learned about creating and sustaining beautiful containers throughout our hot and dry summers. Look for a link to my advice after the class is over, as I know many things I share will apply no matter where you live. Maybe I’ll do an illustrated teaching series on each topic! That would be fun. Yeah. Sounds good to me!
Today as I walked through the upper garden, enjoying the one place on the property where weeds are actually under control, I kept catching a sweet fragrance. I looked around – the delphiniums are blooming but have no scent; it wasn’t the roses. The other perennials are bursting with vigor as the soil warms and there’s still plenty of rain to keep the soil moist, but – there it was again! What was that? I sniffed my way around the garden until I came to a scraggly dianthus that had overwintered in a pot in the greenhouse and I had stuffed into the upper garden to make room for other greenhouse projects.
Two soft coral blossoms were held as high as possible, and their clove/sweet/spicy odor had drifted several feet over to me. Fragrance in May that doesn’t come from a bulb or a shrub – delightful!
Scent is as important to me as any other attribute of a plant. Either the flowers or the foliage need to give me a little something pretty or interesting to smell, or the plant had best have another great quality! I acknowledge the need for deer resistance on the house level, so will plant even obnoxious smelling plants if the deer simply won’t eat them, but still, they must add value to the garden.
Chief among these is Catmint (nepeta):
The plant catalogs would have you believe that the foliage has a pleasant aroma, but they must have a different definition of pleasant than I do! Still, my deer-vulnerable beds have many catmint clumps, for three reasons: my ridiculously palate-adventuresome deer have never touched them; they bloom early and long, so they feed a huge, hungry and varied bee presence on the mountain; they thrive on neglect, reseeding and surviving our very hot and dry summers with very little watering, a huge asset as our well water supply is a bit limited towards the end of summer.
So – the catmint is permitted and even appreciated for its vibrant purple presence against the spring green. But I’ll take the little scraggly dianthus to hang out with.