Scent in the Garden. May.

There are some beautiful,  fragrant flowers giving me pleasure this month.  I have been away for a couple of weeks and I was very worried that I would miss the exquisite, pure white  blooms of Magnolia wilsonii. Wilson found this gorgeous plant in China. Its flowers appear now when all risk of frost is past,  so they are always pristine. They hang down so you have to lift their heads to see the dark crimson stamens.  The perfume is a mixture of vanilla and lemon.

Magnolia wilsonii

Magnolia wilsonii

The other Magnolia in bloom now with a very similar perfume is Magnolia laevifolia  ‘Gail’s  Favourite’. I looked this up, to see if I could find out who Gail is,  but without success. I did find one source that said this Magnolia has no perfume. Whoever wrote this has clearly never sniffed one. It smells delicious. The lovely tan buds open to creamy white flowers. This plant used to be known as Michelia laevifolia. I hope it proves hardier than other Michelias. This is the first year for mine. It is a delightful little shrub.

Magnolia laevifolia 'Gail's Favourite'

Magnolia laevifolia ‘Gail’s Favourite’

I have also been worried that I would miss the short- lived blooms on the  Gansu Tree Peony that I grew from seed.  I have already written about the disappointment I received last year when this bloomed for the first time and proved not to have the pure white flowers with maroon centres of the legendary Rockii peony that I was expecting. But still it is lovely and it is sweet smelling too. The pale pink one that I grew from the same batch of seeds is not fully open yet, so I still have the pleasure to come.

Paeonia Gansu-Mudan

Paeonia Gansu-Mudan

Wisteria is sweetly scented too. This one that I am trying, not entirely successfully, to train as a standard smells delicious. It was growing as a free- standing plant in my previous garden and there were always plenty of rooted pieces to give away. By the way, it is a waste of time growing Wisteria from seed; you have to wait years for the flowers and they are generally disappointing.

I was inspired by the Patient gardener to paint the summer house which you can see in the picture. It was a glaring white. In fact rather like Pooter in The Diary of a Nobody, the Pianist has got carried away and has painted anything in sight with Cuprinol Wild Thyme. Unlike Pooter who painted the bath bright red, he has restricted himself to outside furniture where at the last count there were 2 benches, 2 chairs and 2 tables painted, but the list is growing.

Pelargonium ‘Attar of Roses’ is in bloom in the greenhouse. The flowers are a delicate shade of pink. The felty leaves have to be rubbed gently to release the spicy rose perfume. It is delicious.

Pelargonium 'Attar of Roses'

Pelargonium ‘Attar of Roses’

There are roses out,  but I will leave these for June and finish with Rhododendron luteum which smells intoxicating. I don’ t have the acid soil that this plant requires, so it lives in a pot.

Rhododendron luteum

Rhododendron luteum

Talking about intoxicating, you have probably heard the tale told by Xenephon of the retreating army of 10,000 mercenaries raised by Cyrus to seize the throne of Persia from his brother. They were within sight of the Black Sea at Trebizond and fell ill after eating honey from Rhodendron luteum. Xenephon said the ‘soldiers who ate of the honey all went off their heads and suffered from vomiting and diarrhoea and not one of them could stand up‘. They were suffering from Grayanotoxin poisoning caused by what is called ‘mad honey’. The effect is not permanent but it clearly gives you quite a buzz. The thought of 10,000 hallucinating soldiers with diarrhoea is a sobering one. ( Incidentally, am I the only one who can never remember how to spell diarrhoea? It is a good thing it is not a word I need to write very often. Specially not on a gardening blog.)

My apologies to my blogging friends who I have not been able to keep in touch with for the last couple of weeks. I have been to Ireland and not had chance to keep up with my blog reading. I will try to catch up now, but I am not sure if I will manage to read all that I have missed,  as the garden is in need of a lot of catching up too.

Wellywoman and Backlane Notebook came up with the idea of a meme to celebrate scent in the garden month by month and I think it is a wonderful idea.

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52 Responses to Scent in the Garden. May.

  1. A feast for the senses, Chloris. Perhaps you could send me your wisteria. When you visit my blog, you’ll see why. Welcome back!

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Cynthia. It’ s not your fault your Wisteria doesn’ t flower, you’ ve clearly got a dud Wisteria.

      • It’s got to the point now where it’s become a running gag among my friends. The thing is, it actually bloomed 2 or 3 times – beautifully, fragrantly. And then nothing. So I am living in hope that it will come back. But so far…..

  2. sueturner31 says:

    Wonderful plants…especially your magnolia willsonii…I bought this as a small plant 2years ago in readiness for a sorbus that is on its last legs. My magnolia will I hope be big enough to be a good replacement in a couple of years. Welcome back…

  3. bittster says:

    There’s nothing wrong with any magnolia, and ‘Gail’s Favourite’ looks particularly nice. I love the tan buds, they give it a nice distinguished look I think.
    I’m trying to avoid adding geraniums this summer. The scented ones are so interesting and I love working around them but winter care is always a concern and I can’t afford to search out and purchase them new each spring!
    Good to see you back, hope you had a great trip.

    • Chloris says:

      We had a lovely trip thank you Frank. The weather was awful but I suppose that is what you expect in Ireland.
      Gail’ s Favourite is gorgeous. Nice shiny leaves, pretty flowers and as you noticed the furry tan buds are lovely.

  4. snowbird says:

    Good heavens….10,000 chaps with the trots is a rather terrifying image!
    I hope you had a lovely time in Ireland and getting around to posting on your jollies!
    You have some stunning jewels here, Wilsonii and Gail are truly beautiful, shame you couldn’t find out who Gail is!!!!
    The pianist is on a mission for sure, send him around here as soon as he’s done…..if he ever is done! I love the colour of the fences and summer house, it enhances that enchanting wisteria! Your paeonia is heavenly….I amazed you go away at all….I would be terrified of missing anything too!xxx

    • Chloris says:

      If it was up to me I would never go away, ever. I did agree to go in May though because I wanted to see the wild flowers in The Burren which are famous for being rare and wonderful. I didn’t let on that I was looking for flowers. I suggested the Burren as a great place for walking. I thought he wouldn’t want to go if he thought there were flowers involved. He thinks flowers ruin a good walk .A bit like golf.
      The Pianist won’ t rest until he has used up his tin of paint. I wouldn’t mind if he didn’ t spill it all over the lawn. It leaves brown marks.

      • snowbird says:

        Ooooh….I do like your scheming! I do the exact same thing! Struth….brown marks on the lawn….shoot him immediately!xxx

  5. rusty duck says:

    Magnolia wilsonii is a picture!
    I shall treat R. luteum with respect from now on..
    Welcome back Chloris.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Jessica. I used to keep bees and I grew this but I never noticed any particular madness in my family. I think it must be dangerous when there is loads of the stuff and the bees are using nothing else.

  6. mattb325 says:

    So wonderful! The magnolias are beautiful, but I do like the M. laevifolia – it reminds me of Michela figo that I had in my Sydney garden – but here in a cold climate is not much use as it needs warm nights to smell its best. R. luteum is stunning and I guess that diarrhoea is as good a way as any to finish off a blog about scent in the garden 🙂

  7. Julie says:

    Hope you had a lovely time in Ireland, a tricky time to leave your garden. I’d love to grow Rhododendron luteum, yours looks gorgeous. Dan Pearson had them on his Chatsworth garden at Chelsea, really lovely to see that plant there.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you, we did have a lovely time but I won’ t go away in May again. You miss too many long awaited treasures. Rhododendron luteum smells so good it is worth trying to find it.

  8. Alain says:

    I am glad you can enjoy the various scents. Unfortunately, I no longer have much of a sense of smell. I am resigned to the fact but it is always a particularly pleasant surprise when I get an unexpected whiff of a plant in bloom.

  9. Enjoyed the literary scents. Didn’t know diarrhea had a British spelling. I never really liked Rhododendrons anyway.
    Like colour vs. color. Glad you are back!!

    • Chloris says:

      But this is much daintier than the big, blowsy rhodos. It is an Azalea although it is called Rhododendron and the scent is divine.
      I think your different spelling for diarrhoea adds to the confusion. I must admit there do seem to be too many vowels in our version.

  10. Welcome back, Chloris! I hope you had a wonderful trip. Your Magnolias are gorgeous! I have a Kentucky Wisteria that is just beginning to fill out an arbor. They take forever! I think part of my problem is the lack of bright sun. Hopefully, it will fill in eventually. They’re so beautiful!

  11. Kris P says:

    I suffer from a bad case of peony envy every year at this time – I’m glad you returned home in time to enjoy yours (and I hope you thoroughly enjoyed your trip). I’m also jealous that you can get close enough to smell your Magnolia flowers – mine (on M. grandiflora) are positioned so high that even a ladder wouldn’t help.

    • Chloris says:

      We had a lovely trip thank you. Tree peonies are so beautiful and so fleeting. You wait all year for just a few days.
      What a shame you cannot reach the flowers on your Magnolia grandiflora. When I had one, I used to pick a flower to sit in a shallow vase. The lemony scent is gorgeous.

  12. gardenfancyblog says:

    Glad to have you back, Chloris. Your magnolias are gorgeous and I can only imagine how lovely they must smell. And your tree peony is beautiful too — I certainly wouldn’t be disappointed with such a color. I just planted my first three tree peonies last month — I’ve heard they can take a few years to flower, so I will try to be patient — even though it’s hard to be after looking at how magnificent yours is! Thanks for sharing it with us. -Beth

  13. homeslip says:

    You always show us such beautiful plants Chloris. I very nearly bought a small potted Rhododendron luteum from the Stourhead shop the other week. Another one that got away. I expect you know the pelargonium greenhouse at Stourhead. I must look out for P. “Attar of Roses”.

  14. Annette says:

    Lots of treasures as usual, Liz. Hoep you’ve had a great time in Ireland – garden visiting perhaps? If so you’ll hopefully tell us all about it! Your wisteria lollipop looks great and so well balanced. Mine is still leaning over to one side but flowered beautifully all the same. That summerhouse looks so pretty – can you show more of it some day? Bet it was lovely to come to your garden – have a great week 🙂

    • Chloris says:

      Ireland was great thank you Annette, we did some garden visiting but not as much as I would have liked. Whereabouts in Ireland did you live? It is such a beautiful country and such lovely people. I couldn’t t wait to get back to the garden though.
      I am busy painting my summer house inside at the moment so you can have a peep when it is finished.

      • Annette says:

        I lived in Co. Mayo on the shores of Lough Carra…old house where D.H. Lawrence stayed some time to write and with a gorgeous garden. Great days 🙂

  15. Cathy says:

    I hope your holiday was enjoyable and you are now happy to be back in your garden – that Rhododendron lutea is definitely one reason to be happy in any case! The peony is gorgeous – a lovely colour. Glad you didn’t miss it flowering!

  16. AnnetteM says:

    Magnolia wilsonii is lovely – glad you didn’t miss too much. I will give you a laugh re spelling of diarrhoea (which I can never spell either).
    Excusing my language the story happened in my previous life as a teacher in Stratford-on-Avon. One child, on returning after a period of absence, handed me his parent’s note:
    “Dear Miss L, Jonny has been off school because he had diarria, diorrea, diahr. . . the shits”.
    I wish I had kept that letter, but am still having a laugh about it all these years later – of course it was in the days before computers and spell checkers so I think they could be forgiven.

    • Chloris says:

      Oh, what a lovely story. I love it that she sent the letter with all the attempts of spelling it for you to see. You can see how she just lost patience trying to get it right. Wonderful. Thank you for the laugh.

  17. Pauline says:

    Welcome home, hope you had a wonderful time, will we see some photos?
    I saw Magnolia wilsonii yesterday when we went garden visiting, such a beautiful flower. Your tree peony is also so beautiful even if not the expected colour.

    • Chloris says:

      I would like to write a post about the Burren and one or two of the beautiful gardens but it is difficult to find the time at the moment. I am so busy trying to catch up with the garden. All that sunshine and rain, it is a jungle out there.
      Magnolia wilsonii is an absolute gem.

  18. Robbie says:

    “Incidentally, am I the only one who can never remember how to spell diarrhoea?” I am still laughing! I have often thought that when I would go to write it and never said it-thank you for a good laugh! Your garden pictures are lovely:-) I have to admit , I love the color-Cuprinol Wild Thyme for buildings!

    • Chloris says:

      I’ m glad I am not the only one who can’ t remember how to spell that word. Don’ t let me confuse you Robbie. You spell it without an o. You know how we like to put extra vowels in words.

  19. Flighty says:

    A lovely post and wonderful pictures, including the new header. xx

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Flighty. The orange poppies seed around everywhere but they are pretty. I can send you some seed later if you would like some.

  20. Whenever I read your posts I have a terrible attack of the Green Eyed Monsters! I am especially envious of the Magnolia wilsonii, so beautiful, even without scent 🙂

    • Chloris says:

      I am extravagant when it comes to plants, if I can’ t grow it from seed or beg, borrow or steal a cutting, then I buy… far more than I can afford. As a result you certainly wouldn’t have wardrobe envy if we met. My scarecrow is better dressed than I am.

  21. May is a brilliant month for scent in the countryside, from field beans to elderflower and hawthorn, but your garden sounds even more delicious. Glad you’ve caught your favourites in time.

    • Chloris says:

      Yes you are right and that reminds me I forgot to include my broad bean flowers in the scented flowers. There are unpleasant May smells too. I can’ t stand the oilseed rape that surrounds us here.

  22. I do envy you your Magnolia wilsonii. It sounds delicious! And a bit too large for our garden, sadly.
    As for Rhododendron luteum, that’s another shrub I’ve desired for some time. I encountered them recently on a visit to Dudmaston Hall, with its magnificent Rhododendron and Azalea display. They smelt lovely! Still looking for a spot to plant them, though. Sadly, I can spell diarrhoea without checking!! The Pianist is doing a grand job with Wild Thyme – so co-ordinated!
    Hope you enjoyed your hols!

    • Chloris says:

      I have my Rhododendron in a pot as I don’ t have acid soil. That solves the problem of finding room for it. Oh what a pity you have not got room for Magnolia wisonii, you would love it.
      How clever of you to be able to spell diarrhoea without checking. But can you spell Symphyotrichum?
      Lovely holiday, thanks.

  23. croftgarden says:

    I hope the weather was more spring-like in Ireland than it is here. As usual a lovely collection of plants for us to enjoy. Even if I had flowers in bloom it would be too windy to determine whether they had any perfume. Fortunately the scented-leaved geraniums are in flower in the polytunnel. I also like Attar of Roses – have you tried Prince of Orange – which as the name suggests has lovely orange perfumed leaves.

  24. Chloris says:

    Oh no, we had terrible weather, cold, wet and windy. The odd bit of sunshine but not enough.
    I haven’ t come across Prince of Orange, I will look out for it.

  25. Honeysuckle and roses are blooming here and I love every sweet sniff I can get. I would love to go to Ireland so lucky you but you are a lot closer than I am. 🙂 Love the summer house. 🙂

  26. Wanted to stick my nose into the computer screen to smell all your beauties. And didn’t Cyrus become King of Persia? Though maybe that was a different Cyrus.

  27. Anna says:

    I’m most sorry for the late comment Chloris. I’m having a blog catch up session today. I hope that you had a great holiday over in Ireland. What a great scented selection!There is a rhodendenron luteum in the grounds where our caravan is sited. The aroma takes my breath away whenever I walk past it. I most fond of scented pelargoniums too. I get round spelling the word in question by using the term dire horror which I think describes the condition most aptly. Still chuckling at Annette’s story.

  28. Debra says:

    Happy sigh. I love the scent of our Magnolia grandiflora. Slightly lemony. They are blooming for me right now.

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