Fragrance is a vital feature of any garden, don’t you think?
I’ve often bemoaned the sacrifice of scent in new varieties of roses for blowsy showiness. Bred for shape or colour characteristics over old qualities, like how divine they smell, is a disappointing trade-off sensory wise.
In these first heady days of Spring, one of the delights my tiny garden offers is my Jasmine vine. There are around 200 species of the Jasminum genus of shrubs and vines (family of Oleaceae) native to tropical and warm temperate regions of Eurasia, Australasia and Oceania.
The one I’m growing on a small bamboo trellis is Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum Jasminoides), a favourite for its glossy green leaves and wonderful fragrance. The tiny buds have been preceeded by bright green new leaf growth. In the next couple of weeks, the leaves will disappear behind a flush of star-like flowers with the most heavenly scent!
Sometimes I think sight takes precedence in sensory hierarchy – for various reasons, including economic ones. Think fruit and vegetables developed and grown for appearance over taste; and the roses I mentioned before.
Is smell being relegated to the sensory back seat then?
One of the first senses to develop in a new born baby, the olfactory system forms a kind of ‘super-highway’ to memories or emotions. Our brains are hardwired to translate the different smells that we experience daily, into feelings, thoughts and actions. For this reason, it probably isn’t surprising that of all the senses, smell is the most directly connected with memory (ref).
The heavenly smell of Jasmine evokes happy memories of my childhood garden, along with others, like the smell of freshly cut grass. If I close my eyes, I can picture my dad pushing the old hand mower and almost hear the rise and fall whirr of its blades. I can hear the bees buzzing around the Jasmine draped on our veranda. If well-being had a smell, cut grass and Jasmine would be part of it.
To address the question of smell being relegated to the sensory backseat; well, it seems the marketers are onto it and have been for years. One fragrance creator asks what the future of fragrance looks like: ‘Will exam rooms be filled with focus-sharpening scents? Could we quash arguments with aromatics? Perhaps the answer to some of our pressing problems is right under our nose.’(ref).
I say, perhaps we need more fragrant gardens.
“Scents bring memories, and many memories bring nostalgic pleasure. We would be wise to plan for this when we plant a garden.”
– Thalassa Cruso, To Everything There is a Season, 1973