By Nicola Kawana
Oh what a fragrant month we’re in. Spring into summer smells so, so good. My nose is on fire this season and not in a hay fever induced way. Thank my good genes I’ve never suffered seasonal sniffles, but I’ve always been a scent driven girl.
I can smell when a cake is baked to perfection, I can smell rain before it hits the ground and unfortunately I can smell a synthetic air freshener a mile away.
But it’s the smelly stuff that heralds another summer that I’m talking about here, that magnificent show off, the flower. And while technically they haven’t put on their Sunday best for our visual and sensual pleasure, they are none the less a delight to behold and sniff. Each flower is exactly as it is, in form and scent to attract the perfect pollinator. It’s almost as if each one has its own Marvin Gaye singing out from the petals, in order to seduce any passers-by. A flower’s scent is at its most intense when it fancies a bit of fertilisation, once this has been achieved it then produces a hormone which decreases the release of scent oils, allowing the pollinators to move onto other flowers in need of a little loving.
Not surprising that we homosapiens also rely on flowers as an expression of love, gratitude and sometimes just to say, I fancy you quite a bit actually.
The entrance to my house is a path lined with lavender, the good old fashioned L.Dentata. It blooms all year round which keeps the bees out of mischief and off the streets. It makes an excellent posy for the bedside table, working its charm as a night time soother and it’s rather good in the loo as a freshener. I often pick a flower head as I’m leaving the house and crush it to release the scent and rub it into my skin. This classic French lavender needs trimming 3-4 times a year to maintain excellent form but will bloom year round in return. There are so many varieties of Lavandula available and I’ve yet to meet one that I don’t want to take home and tuck into my garden.
Not only is lavender possibly the most versatile to use around the home it’s a pretty addition to any garden, whether mass planted behind a formal box hedge, a bee lure in the vege patch or part of a cottage garden.
But it is not the only scented superstar and further up my garden path my gardenia has begun to upstage the lavender with its blooms so creamy you could almost eat them. This fragrance is so heady it’s almost mind altering and I have no shame in thrusting my nostrils upon these little beauties and inhaling so deeply I almost pull the petals form the sepal. Ahhh yes. I usually refrain from picking these as they have a short vase life but I have been known to clip them into my hair as a homage to Billie Holiday and as a natural scent on a night out.
But there is more to inhale in my backyard which is home to star jasmines who are making their way up wires on my fence, geraniums in terracotta pots, citrus in bloom, not to mention the orchestra of herbs in the vege patch creating a symphony of scent all in the aid of botanical love making. Now is the perfect time to sniff your way around a garden centre, let your nose find your perfect match, get them home quickly, slip them out of their pots and into the comfort of your own garden, don’t forget to offer them a drink. Maybe play them a little Cole Porter, “Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it, let’s do it, let’s fall in love.