That breathes upon a bank of violets,
Stealing and giving odour‘.
William Shakespeare. ‘Twelfth Night’.
Ever since I was a child I have loved violets, for their elusive fragrance and their modest flowers which appear so early in the year. In my garden they are weeds really; I have huge areas where they have taken over, but I let them do what they like because they are so lovely.
I always used to wonder why, after that first heady fragrance, you couldn’t smell them any more, no matter how you sniff. It is because they have a ketone compound called ionone which desensitises the receptors in the nose so that for a while the scent is lost to you.
The wild Viola odorata is lovely, but there is a nursery in Devon; ‘Groves Nursery’, which has the National Collection. Here, you can get many beautiful cultivars. My daughter knows about my passion for violets and for Mother’s Day she brought me some back from a recent visit. What could be more delightful than a box of violets?
I already have a pretty deep pink one, ‘Perle Rose’ in the garden, but now I have the delicate pale violet Viola odorata ‘Charles Winston Groves’ and I love the cream and pale pink of Viola odorata ‘Princess Thirza’
Parma violets are not hardy here in Suffolk, so the lovely double white ‘Stanley White’ will have to live in the greenhouse.I must get it a nice terracotta pot.
Whilst we are in the greenhouse, I have another pot of the gorgeous scented Muscari macrocarpum ‘Golden Fragrance’. I planted these a bit later than the pot I showed you a while ago, so that the flowers would be staggered.
Still in the greenhouse, I have the lovely Gladiolus tristis. I don’t think it is quite hardy, but the fragrance is wonderful. I bought it on a nursery visit in February when I went on a jaunt with Julie from Peoniesandposies.
Out in the garden, I have a lovely plant with flowers which smell of violets mixed with a note of vanilla. It’s name, Ypsilandra thibetica doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue, but it is worth looking out for, because it is so pretty. It comes from the Himalayas and is hardy although it looks quite fragile.
There are still long-lasting, scented, winter shrubs which have been blooming for weeks and they show no sign of stopping yet. I think that Daphne has the most wonderful fragrance known to man; apart from Plumeria, Frangipani. (But for that you need a different hemisphere.) The winter-flowering honeysuckle has a very sweet scent and has been blooming for ages. The Witch Hazel ‘Arnold Promise’ is very late-flowering; all the others have finished. It doesn’t have a very strong fragrance, but I just sniffed it and it is decidedly fruity.
I keep showing you my beautiful Japanese Apricot, Prunus mume ‘Beni-chidori’ . I love it so much, it has such lovely, dark pink flowers and they are scented. They smell of almonds and what else? Honey perhaps? I find scents so difficult to describe.
Thank you Louise at Wellywoman for coming up with the idea for this lovely meme. Do go over and see what she has to say about fragrant flowers this month. She is a fellow violet lover and you can read the interesting article she wrote about them for ‘The Guardian‘.
What lovely fragrance are you enjoying in your garden this month? Do join in and tell us.