Fragrances that Surprise--TOW

Jane McGary
Mon, 12 Apr 2004 10:22:30 PDT
Because I grow many of my bulbs in cold frames, I'm often surprised by 
fragrance that I wouldn't have noticed in the open garden. Many flower 
scents do not "carry" in cold air but become obvious in the extra warmth 
under glass. I often raise one of the lights in the late morning and notice 
a new fragrance. The honey scent of crocuses rushes out even in January.

I knew that Erythronium helenae was fragrant and thought it was the only 
species that was, but E. hendersonii also has a sweet scent, and this 
characteristic is imparted to at least some of its hybrids (it's useful for 
hybridizing because it imparts a pink color and seems to be more 
interfertile than E. revolutum).

The lovely fragrance of Fritillaria striata has often been noted. F. 
liliacea has a faintly sweet scent, but I rarely appreciate it because most 
of my flowering plants are in close proximity to F. agrestis, which has the 
worst stench in the genus.

Narcissus fernandesii and N. cordubensis are so similar that some 
authorities combine them in a single species. Curiously, N. fernandesii has 
a powerful "jonquil" aroma and flowers here a month later than N. 
cordubensis, which has a fainter scent in the form I have. N. jonquilla, of 
course, is famous for its fragrance, and being late, is scenting all the 
gardens now.

Two half-hardy bulbs with night-scented flowers are just coming into bloom 
now: a Hesperantha species, and Gladiolus tristis.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

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