Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Evening Fragrance Anyone?

Well, our scary little girl statue in the woodland walk still looks scary with a bit of snow (see above). I think we'll dab some red paint in the eye sockets and see what the visitors think. :) We've had about a inch of fluff come down although the temperature has fluctuated around the freezing mark and the roads are fairly clear. Note the other snowy shots including the concrete sphere and the flower/fruit remnants of a Tiger Eyes sumac (Rhus typhina 'Bailtiger'). My trip up to Olbrich Botanical Gardens (Madison, WI) last night went fine as did the return trip. My talk on Annuals for Scent went well and it was nice to see Jane, the Executive Director from the Klehm Arboretum (Rockford, IL) and two of her co-workers at the presentation. Becky N., one of our volunteers, was there as well. The lower half of this blog features some of the fragrant annuals that I featured and all of these shown are great for the dusk or evening garden with maximum fragrance in the evening (more on that later).

We had a busy day out at the Horticulture Center today. Urban and I did a quick walk around the west edge of our property and found plenty of "pruning targets" for his next trip out. Urban can also be seen to the right helping Rose with some of the tall blue obelisks. Dr. Gredler was in to continue on those same obelisks. We still have a dozen or so to paint but the progress has been quite impressive. Next in our "painting assembly line" will be culvert pipes and our new planter bowl on a pvc pipe combos. Del and Dick W. continued creating more pieces for their deer and sleigh cutouts and have been quite dedicated to this lengthy process. In the office, Marianne, Kay and Pat were in for the second and final round of creating plant labels for our outgoing seed packets. We'll organize these by grower on Thursday morning. Pat and Marianne also prepared more labels for Luis to use on the engraver. Luis was around this morning producing more tree and shrub labels. Janice spent a good portion of the day working on more informative plant sale signage and will be creating the same type of signage for our Ornamental Edible and Compact Vegetable Collection. This collection will include our "Grains of the World" component and have examples of edibles in containers, vertical opportunities, etc. We're pretty excited about the potential of this space and the interest that it will generate (as it did last year). Larry worked on pouring more tree sign bases, cutting labels and he also sharpened some tools. We also saw Margo, Maury, Gary, Big John, Iza, Chris R., Mary (new volunteer), Joanne, Bill O., Art and others. I worked on more orders, had meetings and am finishing a presentation that I'll give next week up in Sturgeon Bay, WI for the Door County Master Gardeners (Color in the Garden). This year will be the second of two years that we'll dedicate the Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden specifically to fragrance. This Smelly Garden was quite popular last year and we really will strive to maximize the appeal and use of this space over the growing season. Last fall we planted 1,000+ fragrant lilies out there for summer fragrance but will also have a wide range of annuals and herbs to offer fragrance from both flower and foliage. The image above is the fragrant woodland tobacco (Nicotiana sylvestris) that becomes more fragrant in the evening and can perfume an area quite nicely. My talk on Annuals for Scent includes those that offer the best scent (or only scent) during the evening hours. While scent is subjective and we don't all like the same smells, I think most of us would enjoy some sweet wafting of fragrance as we enjoy the evening air out in the deck, back porch, front stoop, etc. The the left are the small but richly fragrant blooms of night phlox (Zaluzianskya capensis 'Midnight Candy'). The blooms are closed all day but open up at dusk thru the early morning. To the right is the angel's trumpet (Datura 'Evening Fragrance') which also goes by many other common names. This plant, while entirely poisonous, does release a strong, sweet scent at night. The closely related Brugmansia is also very fragrant. It's interesting how much scent from our plants is exaggerated in seed catalogs. Just the term FRAGRANT! can sell a lot more plants. Many times, the fragrance is so light that you have to jam the flower in a nostril to catch a whiff. I'm always wary of the comment DELICATE SCENT as that may also mean "almost non-existent scent." Do a little more research as to the degree of scent, how it is provided (flowers and/or leaves), peak timing for the scent, etc... Further below are some additional annuals that provide evening scent. In progression, directly below is the sweet four o'clock (Mirabilis longiflora), next is the evening-scented stock (Matthiola longipetala subsp. bicornis) and at the bottom, another shot of the woodland flowering tobacco (Nicotiana sylvestris) with a backdrop of maroon-leaf castor bean (Ricinus communis 'New Zealand Purple').

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