Scent in the Garden. August.

It is odd that with so much colour in the garden and the pollinators working overtime, there is not a great deal of fragrance. Winter and spring flowers seem to rely on fragrance to attract any bee in the vicinity, but now bright colour does the trick.

In a sunny position against a wall, the Jersey Lily, Amaryllis belladonna produces its  fragrant, trumpet- shaped flowers on long naked stems, earning it the common name of naked lady. It does need a sunny summer like the one we have enjoyed this year to produce its blooms.

Amaryllis belladonna

Amaryllis belladonna

Now,  once and for all, let’s be clear that the bright coloured flowers we enjoy in pots in winter are Hippeastrum not Amaryllis.

Hippeastrum, not Amaryliss

Hippeastrum, not Amaryllis

Hippeastrums come from South America and Amaryllis comes from South Africa where it grows in stony ground. The flowers have a delicious  scent rather reminiscent of bubble gum, but much nicer.

The other common name for it is Jersey lily, although it is not a lily at all. The great Pre-raphaelite artist, John Everett Millais painted  the portrait of Lily Langtree who was a celebrated beauty and actress. As she came from Jersey he wanted to depict her as a Jersey Lily. Unfortunately, Amaryllis belladonna was not available in the flower markets whilst he was painting so he gave her a Nerine to hold instead.
(c) Jersey Heritage; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation













Amaryllis are quite promiscuous and have been crossed with other genera to produce some lovely plants. For instance, Crinum moorei has similar blooms and it has been crossed with Amaryllis to produce Amarcrinum. This prompted me to go out and sniff my Crinums and indeed they are fragrant too. I had never noticed before.

Crinum moorei

Crinum moorei

I think I might try a little hand pollination to see what I can get. Amaryllis has also been crossed with Nerine sarniensis to create Amarine, but my Nerines are not in bloom yet so I can’t try that one.

Many people remove their Hosta flowers because they feel the gawky appearance spoils the look of the plant. There is one Hosta though which I grow just  for its lovely scented blooms although it has beautiful foliage too.

Hosta 'Guacamole'

Hosta ‘Guacamole’

Hosta 'Guacamole'

Hosta ‘Guacamole’

If you like the idea of scented Hosta flowers there are over 58 available now; they are all descended from Hosta plantaginea which was formerly the only scented Hosta available. My lovely ‘Guacamole’ was a sport of”Fragrant Bouquet’. There is now a sport of ‘Guacomole’ available called ‘Ambrosia’, I have my eye on that one too. You don’t have to sacrifice beautiful leaves to enjoy these scented flowers.

Many roses are flowering again and I particularly enjoy the darling buds and flowers of Rosa ‘Perle d’Or. It produces so many sweetly scented flowers. I would love to wear this as a buttonhole so I could sniff it all day.

Rosa 'Perle d'Or'

Rosa ‘Perle d’Or’

Sue at Backlane Notebook blog has chosen a shrub with a beautiful fragrance for her Scent in the Garden post this month. It is the lovely Crinodendron trichotomum. I love this shrub too. In fact in time it grows into a tree. It is the most fragrant plant in the garden at the moment.

Crinodendron richotomum

Crinodendron trichotomum

Earlier this year I bought a lovely variegated form called Crinodendron trichotomum ‘Carnival’. It is still very small and so there are no flowers to show you.

Clerondendron trichomomum

Clerondendron trichomomum

I saw a mature plant the other day and this is what it looks like. I can’t wait for mine to grow to this size.

Clerodendron trichomomum 'Carnival'

Clerodendron trichomomum ‘Carnival’

In winter and spring we all enjoy the wonderful lily-of-the -valley fragrance of our mahonias. I have a lovely summer flowering one. It does not have the powerful fragrance that we expect from a Mahonia but I think it is very pretty with its orange buds.

Mahonia nitens 'Cabaret'

Mahonia nitens ‘Cabaret’

My Gouty Pelargonium: Pelargonium gibbosum which I showed you the other day is till going strong and I have now brought it into the house to enjoy its delicious evening scent.

Pelargonium gibbosum

Pelargonium gibbosum

Louise at Wellywoman and Sue at Backlane Notebook had this great  idea for a Scent in the Garden meme.  Ali at The longgardenpath is very keen on scent in the garden too and always joins in. I am going over to see what her fragrant flowers are this month.

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38 Responses to Scent in the Garden. August.

  1. Your garden continues to amaze, Chloris. What a wonderful variety, of colours and shapes. I am glad to learn that there are that many fragrant hosta available now. But you shocked me by asserting that our amaryllis is not an amaryllis. Be still, my quaking heart! For one thing, who can pronounce that other hippy word? Tell me you got your facts wrong just this once — as our amaryllis season fast descends upon us.

    • Chloris says:

      Well, you can look it up if you don’ t believe me. I know Hippeastrums are often, even usually, called Amaryllis, but that doesn’ t make it right. The Hippeastrum doesn’ t even come from the same continent as the Amaryllis. Never mind Cynthia, you call them Amaryllis if you want to, everyone else does. I’ m iust a boring old pedant about nomenclature.

  2. The garden is in full summer glory. How interesting to see the Clerodendrons, I had not seen any before moving to the tropics and there they are again in England. I always thought Hostas were underappreciated for their flowers and love the Guacamole, glad you have one!
    There is something wonderful blooming around here that I can smell but can’t find..the search is on.

  3. Chloris says:

    Ah but the beautiful Clerodendron thomsoniae that you have in the tropics doesn’ t grow here Amy. Still this one is beautifully fragrant. I should love to know what your fragrant flower is when you track it down.

  4. mattb325 says:

    I’ve never really used hostas as just foliage plants as the garden is still too new and sunny to introduce them just yet, but these perfumed varieties certainly have my attention.
    That variegated Clerodendrum is a lovely shrub: the markings are just beautiful against the flowers. Scent is always so underappreciated in the garden. I think one of the first things anyone does when they see a flower for the first time is to push their nose into it…..

    • Chloris says:

      I agree Matt, scent is so important, it adds an extra dimension to the garden. I love the idea of a meme which highlights scent every month. Otherwise it could be overlooked.

  5. pbmgarden says:

    Just to stir the pot I’ll mention I’ve successfully grown Hippeastrum outdoors as well. It overwinters here. But I can’t really brag as mine didn’t bloom this year at all, still time perhaps? Great hostas! I haven’t grown them in ages because the deer can’t resist them, but I was interested to know some are fragrant. They make such a nice addition to a garden.

    • Chloris says:

      How great to be able to grow Hippeastrum outside. I can never get it to flower again. I get leaves but no flowers, I wish I knew what the trick is.
      I love Hostas and Hosta plantaginea and its family are particularly beautiful with big fragrant flowers.

  6. That Clerodendron (sp?) sure is spectacular. And the orange buds of your Mahonia are attractive, too. Amaryllis belladonna is so similar to Lycoris squamigera and both are called “Naked Ladies” and “Surprise Lilies.” I have several patches of Lycoris, which is winding down with its blooms now. That’s when we know the summer is winding down. 😦

  7. Kris P says:

    I’m in love with that Mahonia, which I’ve never seen here. I envy you the Hosta too, which are impossible to grow here, although they’re occasionally found in local garden centers. I didn’t realize that Amaryllis belladonna was scented. I hope the bulbs I received from another blogger earlier this year will make an appearance next year – they remain in hiding this year. Like Hippeastrum, they’re relatively drought tolerant and will naturalize here (assuming that we get at least some winter rain).

  8. bittster says:

    You’ve made me think twice about my hostas, I really don’t have many but the majority are fragrant and although I’ve killed off plantaginea (I suspect it didn’t like my lack of watering or our winters and faded away), I do have fragrant bouquet, stained glass (another guacamole sport), and my favorite royal standard. Royal standard is an entirely boring green, but the fragrance fills the evening breeze in that corner of the yard and I think of jasmine when it blooms.

  9. Sam says:

    I’ve never sniffed a hosta flower so didn’t realise they were fragrant! I suppose it makes sense because they’re not showy. I love your mahonia – gorgeous colour.

  10. It always surprises me how fragrant some hostas are. It seems to be the white-flowered ones that have the strongest scent, at least the ones I have so far come across.

  11. You are right that it is peculiar there aren’t more fragrant plants for late summer. In our garden the one exception is our compact ‘Blue Adonis’ Buddleia. Also the annual Sweet Alyssums continue to produce scent. Thank you for explaining about Hippeastrums/Amaryllis – I thought they were the same thing. The Hosta ‘Guacamole’ sounds interesting (though the name doesn’t seem right), I’m thinking of putting a Hosta in my wheelbarrow planter.

  12. Such an interesting list full of amazing flowers and ingesting snippets. The story behind the nerine in Millais’ portrait of Lily Langtree is fascinating. Thank you, as ever, for a tour of some wonderful and unusual plants.

  13. Thank you so much for the mention Chloris!
    You have some choice plants there – so many I don’t know. The Crinodendron I will definitely have to keep an eye out for. I was at the nursery today and came across your Mahonia “Cabaret”, which, I agree, is so lovely.You’ll be pleased to know I came away with another scented shrub – Cestrum parqui, which has a gorgeous night perfume. Mind you, my night scented stocks could still give it a run for its money!

  14. rusty duck says:

    I do like the mahonia with its orange buds. Is it scented at all?

  15. Cathy says:

    You do like to get your wooden spoon out and have a bit of a stir with the amaryllis/hippeastrum debate, don’t you….? But cutting the flowers off a hosta so as not to spoil the foliage – surely not? My hosta blooms have been particularly noticeable this year – not sure if I have any fragrant ones though so must go and have a sniff around. Your orange mahonia blooms look most intriguing although they still won’t tempt me to have another mahonia! Thanks for all your fragrant sharings Chloris

    • Chloris says:

      I do keep on about the Amrayllis/ Hippeastrum thing, but I think it is pretty universal so it is a losing battle. It is the same as calling Pelargoniums Geraniums, now what is that about? They are not related in any way.
      If you have Hosta plantaginea or any of its children they will be fragrant, none of the others are.

  16. Brian Skeys says:

    You have a wonderful variety of different and unusual plants in your garden, Chloris. I do like Crinum, we have the white one. How do you keep your lovely hosta leaves slug free?

  17. So many scented blooms here. Since we only have blooms for three seasons, I try to plant those with scent through the seasonsalthough until I cut some I can’t smell their fragrance.

  18. You have such a range of beautiful and unusual flowers in your garden. Your garden must smell delicious all year round. I’ve not seen a summer mahonia before. It looks wonderful, like glowing embers.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Allison I do love scented flowers and try to have something smelly for every month.
      What a lovely description ‘ glowing embers’, that is just what the Mahonia looks like.

  19. You have a great selection of scented plants and several are new to me especially the Crinodendrons. And I had no idea that hosta flowers had scent. Many thanks for the link and I look forward to your September post.

    • Chloris says:

      The only fragrant hostas are Hosta plantaginea and hostas which are sports or are bred from Hosta plantaginea. They are worth seeking out as you get lovely foliage as well as fragrant flowers.

  20. Julie says:

    Your enthusiasm is so infectious, its a joy to read your post on such a foul wet day. Interesting observation too about scent and pollinators at this time of year. All of your plants are lovely as always, I have missed some of your posts and this is the first time I have seen your pelargonium, thats a new one on me.

  21. snowbird says:

    You will pleased to know that I have truly learnt the difference between a Hippeastrum and an Amaryllis…one wouldn’t want ones knuckles rapped now, would one????
    Perle d’Or is gorgeous, I should immediately pick one and wear it anyway!
    You did say you had a sunny summer there didn’t you? Struth! Wish we’d had one…
    Naked Lady is gorgeous, I shall look out for that.
    I’ve not had a chance to smell my hosta flower, the slugs ate them along with all the leaves….deep sighs….xxx

    • Chloris says:

      We certainly don’ t have Summer now, just rain, rain, rain.
      Colchicums are called Naked Ladies too because they flower without their leaves, so be sure to get the right Naked Ladies.
      Do you drink proper coffee? I use coffee grounds on my Hostas and the slugs don’ t touch them.

  22. Christina says:

    Interesting observation about the lack of perfume in high summer, I think that you’re right that the bees are more attracted by the bright colours at this time or it might be that the perfumes are different and we can’t distinguish them. Your new shrub, Clerodendron trichomomum ‘Carnival’, will be amazing when it grows larger, it is pretty now but the mature specimen you showed is glorious.

  23. Chloris says:

    The Clerodendron is lovely with a gorgeous fragrance and in Autumn it has turquoise berries.
    Do you grow Hippeastrum belladonna Christina? It should do well in your garden.

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