Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fragrance Is Still Worth a Scent, Advocate Says

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fragrance Is Still Worth a Scent, Advocate Says

Article excerpt

"Fragrance is very important and it's something we've forgotten through the years. There are roses today with no scent at all because other qualities were considered more important."

Harlan Hamernik, owner of Bluebird Nursery Inc. of Clarkson, Neb., and a much honored plant hybridizer, is an enthusiastic advocate of growing flowers, vines, shrubs and trees which have beautiful scents as well as beautiful appearance. "Fragrant Plants for the Landscape" was the title of his talk to the Missouri Master Gardeners meeting at Missouri Botanical Gardens last weekend.

While a sense of smell contributes much pleasure as well as evoking memories, perhaps of some enchanted evening of long ago, when we brush by a lilac bush or open a window near a honeysuckle vine. "There are many kinds of fragrance - of flowers, foliage and, to a lesser degree, bark and roots," Hamernik told the master gardeners. "Most important, plants need fragrance to attract pollinators. It's the uppermost layer of petals in most cases that release the alcohols and esters, which are volatilized and carried by breezes for miles to insects, bats or birds that hone in." White flowers have the greatest amount of fragrance, with mauve, pink and pale yellow next. Some fragrances are so strong they practically walk out the door. Just before his talk, the speaker had been strolling around Shaw's Garden and passed the camellia house. A sweet smell drew him back and he went in the house, sniffing until he found the source, a sweet olive tree (Osmanthus fragrans) . Some fragrance is powerful; others, such as lavender, are so subtle they must be brushed against to be noticed. "We spend a lot of money to smell good," Hamernik said, "in cosmetics, baths, laundry. And yet we don't use flowers to make visitors feel good when they visit our gardens." With color slides and an accompanying nine-page list, Hamernik described some of the best plants to grow for fragrance. These ranged from Ribes odoratum (clove currant) in early spring to the autumn clematis now giving us a late fall fragrance along fences and trellises. They include trees from the lime or linden tree down to the small, modest sweet woodruff groundcover, which is fragrant only after it is dried. …

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