Gardening: 7 posts

Scented Garden : Osmanthus or Tea Olive

by Elise Pearlstine


I moved to the southeastern United States in 1997 after living nearly everywhere else. My profession took me to South Carolina where I was to work for 5 years documenting its biodiversity. Three things stay with me from my time in that lovely state: a fondness for grits, the husband who found me there, and a deep and abiding passion for a certain small tree – the Tea Olive or Osmanthus fragrans. The scent of osmanthus blossoms is elusively sweet and rich, floral yet reminiscent of sunripened apricots, very slightly earthy while at the same time ethereal; a scent that warms with the sun. Mostly it defies description. I was to smell that fragrance for nearly three years before finally determining its source. It floated out at me from the strangest places, a parking garage with a narrow planting of spindly shrubs or a front yard with an ordinary-looking hedge. I kept looking for the source but did not find anything spectacular enough to give off such an amazing scent. The answer finally came from the botanist with whom I worked. She showed me this small, tough-leaved shrub growing next to my parking garage. Certainly those tiny white blooms growing out of the axils and gray twigs of the shrub were not the source!

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Scented Garden : How to Grow Tuberose

To start my fragrant garden series, I would like to write about one of my favorite scented plants, tuberose. Its fragrance of jasmine, coconut and warm skin is one of the most intoxicating and addictive, while its tall stalks densely adorned with lily-like white flowers are graceful and beautiful. As it happens to be, tuberose is fairly easy to grow either indoors or outside, if you have a nice sunny spot. After all, tuberose is a tropical plant, and as much as it will adapt to its new surroundings, it will always crave the sun. If the plant can be given at least 5-6 hours of constant sunlight a day, it will reward the gardener with the most luscious and opulent of scents.


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