The Gidyea is flowering here at Moble, Acacia cambagei. We love the smell of Gidyea, it reminds us of moisture in the air and soft winter rain. It is a knockout smell for the uninitiated but for those of us who live amongst its blue green canopy, it smells like coming home.
My niece, Miss Albatross, recently delivered a beautiful bouquet of Foxtails and Gidyea to her father in hospital; an armful of the west blooming at his bedside. He awoke the next morning to find the nurses and cleaners spraying the carpets and scrubbing around indiscriminately – it seemed there was an unusual smell they could not diagnose; someone must have spilt something? He pointed to his bedside bouquet and asked them to have a sniff… and yes, it was the Gidyea. They were happy for him to keep it there too, and rightly so. Incidentally, Miss Moble tells me that Foxtails smell of honey which I think is wonderful and well worth sharing.
So, whilst the Gidyea has a strong smell, there are many plants in the garden that have a fragrance or scent, or perfume. I love how the strength of the words we choose help describe the strength of the sensation. Even I would not describe Gidyea’s yellow haze as a fragrance. The Stephanotis and the Chinese Star Jasmine growing on the southern wall have a beautiful fragrance though, both are waxy and full and fill you with sweetness when inhaled. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could cure our sadness by breathing in flowers, I am certain it must help us? Perhaps we could use different flowers for various ailments? For example, when you stub your toe you sniff orange blossom and you are instantly distracted by thoughts of orchards with delicious fruit. When you are simply cross you just get dust to smell.
Our sense of smell is one of our strongest and, like music, can instantly place us in time. The smell of Sweet Alice, Alyssum, still reminds me of my Mother’s garden and looking for bees amongst its white flowers as a child. I have a bunch of stocks in the kitchen, their clove scent takes me back to my Grandmother’s garden and packing buckets of them into the car for a cousin’s wedding. She grew superb stocks in pink and mauve, my bunch courtesy of Bulloo Blooms is a clotted cream colour which I don’t remember her growing. They are all beautiful, nature rarely jars us if left alone.
Fragrance in the garden is both welcoming and comforting. We have a Mock Orange, Murraya paniculata hedge outside our bedroom window which fills the room with fragrance when flowering, often after rain. The back verandah has the old polyanthus jasmine scrambling along it, it drips with scent for weeks in September and one sprig in a vase of flowers will lift the spirits and blow your socks off. More Chinese Star Jasmine is planted on the northern deck, it reminds me of those first meals in Spring when the evenings are warm enough to eat outside again. Fragrance is often more intense in the softer evening air, so it is well worth planting fragrance where you will gather to eat and outside your bedrooms.
White banksia roses, Rosa banksiae alba, once grew right along our front verandah, until they literally swallowed us and we lived our days in perpetual darkness. (Mr. Moble confidently called it Creepus allaroundus when queried by unsuspecting visitors). Every September to October it filled the house with the scent of violets which almost compensated for the gloom. Eventually, we pulled them out and let the light in again, but I miss that wonderful fragrance still and when I catch a waft of it elsewhere, I am instantly transported to my early gardening days and blustery spring weather. Subsequent plantings in other places have never flourished which makes you wonder if it may not be just a little sulky?
There is so much to write about fragrance: if you have an uninteresting part of your garden, consider filling it with scent and place a seat nearby. Some Lavender or other herbs near the clothesline will give you something delicious to dry your hankies on, what could be better than sunshine and Lavender in your pocket? It must help fight that winter sniffle. Some pots of scent by your doors will always welcome you home; a hedge of aromatics to run your fingers through as you walk past, a sprig of home to break off and put in your pocket and take with for the day. I have not even touched on bees and fragrance yet, or roses and spring bulbs; we will have to try for another day.
To all my far- flung girls, the Gidyea is flowering, the essence of home. I know you will close your eyes and breath it in wherever you are.
Plant some fragrance, the scent of a good life.
The Moble Gardener.