Strange Invisible, Winners and Scent Location

la gardenSo……I was going to tell you about some GORGEOUS Strange Invisible Perfume scents we got to try in LA but time got away from me, computers and trees crashed during last night’s scary storm and it was all just a mess.   SIPs deserve more than a cursory mention, so look for those next week.

Let’s talk Scent Location.   In the Midwest, we grow honeysuckle.  It can take over a fence – but the fence is 6′ tall.  And, to be honest, that’s rare, even for an older ‘suckle.  I’ve been struggling to establish one for 2 years and it’s just now  deciding to play along.

Take a look at the photo here.  That’s a honeysuckle.  It’s almost 25′ tall – heck, maybe more.  It’s in the garden of the strange little place we stayed in LA – Patty picked it because of the garden and….wow!  What a garden!  It wends back some bazillion feet, amongst an entire GROVE of bamboo!  Here in the Midwest, we can grow bamboo and yes, it can become invasive.  But we don’t get groves.  Ditto a 25′ honeysuckle hedge.

That’s the power of location.  We walked along the Venice canals and marveled at hedges of jasmine, so redolent with scent it left us staggering!  Roses the size of dinner plates.  Orchids, just growing outside like sunflowers.

I got up at 0’dark-thirty Sunday morning to take the Raymond Chandler Shuttle from Hell to LAX…standing there, on the curb, I was assailed by this amazing, foreign-but-familiar scent.  What the hell smells that good at 4am?  I’ll tell you…another jasmine hedge, growing like lilacs grow in Illinois.  And a gardenia plant roughly the size of a Cooper Mini.   Oh…….it was almost worth the terror-filled ride down the cliffside in the gloaming…..

I came back to viburnum and lilacs and sweet irises just unfolding…but what I wouldn’t give for a jasmine hedge – or two.  As much as I love jasmine perfume, I suspect the Best Jasmine Perfume is the one growing on the plant!

So…what’s your Location Scents?  And what, if anything, would you love to grow that is …shall we say…’unlikely’?


Mine is this:  lemonguavathe lemon guava tree growing in the garden next door to the incredible garden we stayed at.  I can get over myself – we can grow neither lemons nor guavas successfully here – certainly not as a freakin’ tree in the yard….but a gal can dream!


Oh, winners!  I am Doofus Central – totally forgot to post the winner for the most recent draw.  So here ’tis!


The Inner Strength giveaway winner is Jackie b !!!  And I thank you all so much for your kind words!!!  There’s another draw that I’ve forgotten but I can’t find it and I’m fresh outta time – so look for that listing later, probably over the weekend!  Jackie b, you know the drill, right?  Contact us with contact info, tell what you’ve won etc – I’ll get it out to you a whole lot quicker than I announced the winner, I promise!




  • Diana says:

    I spent a year in NC and used to really enjoy smelling the sweet scent of the pink cottony puffs on the persian silk trees as well as honeysuckle while I was walking the dog. I don’t really recall any particular flower scents from PA, which is odd since I spent most of my adult life there. Now that I’m in the northern ‘burbs of Chicago, it seems that lilac is everywhere. That’s nice. Now if only mother nature could do something about these wacky shifts in temperature. Will summer ever stay more than a couple of days?

  • Jackie b says:

    (Very excited about Inner Strength, thank you!!)

    I have quite a stinky garden, there are roses and gardenias which survive summer here somehow. Arabian jasmine, night scented jasmine…lime and lemon trees, lavender.
    And don’t laugh, but I bought an alembic and played with rose geranium hydrosol, lavender and also orange blossom. It was lots of fun but time consuming. The rosemary was overpowering though.
    I can’t even imagine some of your lilies and irises in the northern hemisphere, sound divine!

  • Mals86 says:

    A favorite scent-location smell is the blossoms on black locust trees. They’re blooming now, but the trees are tall and the blossoms are all up top, so it’s rare that you can stick your nose right into one. Fortunately, they are wafty. And when the wind blows, it is absolute heaven.

  • Sherri says:

    Honeysuckle time here in TN also. It smells great outside right now. Hybrid Tea Roses in TN are my nemesis. They grow fine, but so high-maintenance or they get bugs and black mold (humidity is so bad here). I don’t ever remember my grandmothers in PA ever having to work with theirs like this! I’m also heartbroken my Stargazer lilies which smell gorgeous did not come up last year; wonder if they’re permanently gone?

    • Musette says:

      on the Stargazers, just dig them up and take a look. The bulbs might be spent; then again, they might just need to be fed and maybe moved. I don’t bother with tea roses anymore, lovely as they are. Too many issues! Now I stick with own-root shrub roses or…if the graft does die, I just enjoy what flowers from the root!


  • Around here (Houston), star jasmine and magnolias are in bloom. The star jasmine smells fabulous, but I can never seem to smell the magnolias. I walked right by a small, blooming magnolia tree just outside the entrance of a mall over the weekend, and I was looking for a scent, but.. nothing. Things I wish I could grow are many, since I live in an apartment with a balcony that doesn’t get enough sun to grow a lot of things. I tried gardenia once at my last apartment, but it never bloomed, and then it died. I also had a blood orange tree at a previous place where I had more space. It never produced any fruit while I had it, but it did bloom once, and the flowers smelled amazing. If I had a house with a yard that got a decent amount of sun I’d have… well, I’d have a lot of things, probably, but I’d definitely have more jasmine, and I’d have a Passionflower vine. Passionflower is one of my favorites because the flowers are so unusual. I’d probably get the variety that smells like incense. I saw one at a nursery when I lived in Austin, and the flowers had an ambery scent. I’d probably also have a gardenia. Maybe roses but I’m not sure I’m gardener enough to handle them.

    • Musette says:

      El O may (MAY) build the greenhouse come the end of summer, in which case I can try to grow some citrus and maybe a jasmine. Passionflower sounds fab!

      Roses are all in the hardiness, imo. I gave up fighting with roses that are not appropriate for my area (hundreds of simoleans spent on David Austins, etc, only to watch February kill them stone dead. Now it’s Zone 5 and under.


  • alityke says:

    My house and garden, now and in the past. Tobacco scented white clematis which has scented passiflora growing through it in the garden. Cut Stargazer lilies in the loos as at one time I had 3 men living here and got into the habit of using these as air fresheners. Hyacinths in spring both inside and out. Lavender and rosemary by the doors into the house. David Austin English roses, philadelphus, peonies, crab apple blossom, viburnum, daffodils and narcissi.

    Bluebells in the wood are my favourite smell.

    I don’t have honeysuckle but it does grow like a weed in the north of the UK and it’s yellow honeyed fragrance catches you unawares.

    Strangely I also love the smell of stables, horse, leather, sweet hay and straw. Even the smell of the manure heap has its attractions

  • jirish says:

    I think I really need to know the name of the place you were staying. That garden sounds delirious. Here in Chicago I cannot grow many of the things I wish I could – jasmine, dahlia (without digging up), lemon and lime trees. I would love to smell that lemon guava tree, but I will have to content myself with my path of lavender, my linden tree, lilacs and lilies.

    • Musette says:

      jirish, the accommodation(s) itself was…strange-cool. Kinda Lost LA circa 1965, complete with burnt-out Englishman (very, very nice man who helped March light the gas stove) caterwauling on a guitar at 3am (out of tune). It was so very, very LA. The garden had that Green Mansions thing going, that was really neat.

  • solanace says:

    I live right by the Capricorn Tropic. My citrus trees yield flowers and fruit year round and I can cultivate orchids the way nature intended, in the tree trunks. The basil is so huge it’s killing the rosemary, and the passion fruit flowers attract all kinds of native bees. The roses, on the other hand, suffer more than a bit in such a warm weather; the honeysuckle won’t grow, and the Grasse jasmine is being suffocated by the sambac one – which is amazingly healthy, and smells like heaven in the early mornings!

  • Connie says:

    We have honeysuckle here in MA. Have to cut mine back in the fall because it has climbed up the porch to the roof (of my house). Right now we have a whole lot of lilacs and some lily of the valley. I’m working on growing a small jasmine plant as well as some baby fig trees. I’m always jealous when I visit my grandma in California and see the rosemary hedges her neighbors have. It’s a hedge. And it’s rosemary. I have a tiny plant at home that I have to protect every winter and that still dies back more than is good for it. Sigh.
    Dad always tells me about the smell of boxwood near his grandma’s house when he visited her in Scotland.

    • Musette says:

      Isn’t it funny, what’s considered ‘garden-variety’ – or even a nuisance? I find a lot of folks in LA who think rosemary is a pain ‘ugh – it smells so MUCH’. And Northern CA folks crab about eucalyptus. sigh. I was careless with my rosemary and I fear it gave up the ghost this year – overwintering it in a pot was fine but at the last gasp it dried out. My own fault. I stuck it in the ground and we’ve had scads of rain so maybe…I find that Nature isn’t all that quick to die, if it can avoid it. So we’ll see… xoxoA

  • Ann says:

    Lovely post, my darling! All those wondrous scents — it must have been heavenly! Around here, it’s honeysuckle time. When my son and I go for a walk, there’s a a huge crop of them along the path, and I always have to stop and inhale for a few minutes. And my boss brought a salad-plate size magnolia into the office and I loved its lemony-ish goodness. Wish I had some nice jasmine to sniff, though …

    • Musette says:

      Ann, that jasmine…at 4am…oh, myyy! And like so many narcotic scents, it was made even more so by the come-and-go quality, like viburnum. I think those plants do that deliberately, so we don’t overload on the scent.

      That magnolia sounds heavenly – and I am not a fan of magnolia, overmuch. But when it skews ‘lemon’ it can be entrancing!


  • poodle says:

    I’ve never been able to grow a gardenia. They are too fussy for my house. I just don’t have the right amount of sun I guess. I keep trying but I keep failing.
    Right now my yard smells like the neighbors lilacs if the wind blows the right way, and my broom is in bloom so that pretty much overtakes the airspace. The peonies are all budded so once those start to bloom I think it will be wonderful to sniff. They are looking really good this year.

    • Musette says:

      poodle, I’m stunned! that I was able to overwinter this gardenia. It sat in my east-facing window and I would try to remember to move it to the south windows around 11a – but really, you know, I am not a woman of leisure so all that plant-moving was troublesome. Still, it managed to survive and even grow! Now, if only it will bud and bloom……

      That broom! yum! xoxoA

  • yellow_cello says:

    What a beautiful and evocative post! You make me very jealous of all those lovely flowers. I think my “location scent” is the UK (where I live) in the spring/summer – ie right now. Love the scent-combination of green leafiness and gentle floral blossoms, particularly when there’s rain in the air and everything just smells SO GOOD. When it smells this good, I can’t help but comment to whoever I’m with, which almost always gets strange looks

    • Musette says:

      Yours is the climate all flower gardeners aspire to, to our chagrin. Then we wise up and make do with what our climate allows – still, I pine for David Austin roses…and laburnum…… xoxoA

  • Rina says:

    Gardenias are my Moby Dick…Hubby won’t even let me buy them anymore, I’ve killed so many…I was successful at planting the jasmine hedge under the bedroom window, but I still pine for the gardenia…

  • eldarwen22 says:

    At this point, the lilac bushes in my yard are going nuts. We’ve got a few different types, the ones that bloom from spring to fall and ones that bloom only in spring. All the iris’ are starting to bloom but the flowers themselves don’t give off any smell. But no matter where I go in Cleveland, all I smell are lilacs. This year, our apple tree looks like it is going to give us some apples. I’m hoping that our apricot tree isn’t stripped bare by our already overfed squirelles. Let’s not forget the stargazer lillies that are going to bloom soon.

    I would love to get one of those gardenia potted plants that I keep seeing but I don’t have much in the way of a green thumb. But I’m trying out primroses this year.

    • Musette says:

      We had that Lilac Moment, too. Then the mid-80s hit. Dangit.

      I don’t know how I managed it, not having much of an indoor plant thumb of any kind – but I successfully overwintered my gardenia. It gave no blossoms last year but I figured I would give it a chance – it’s a healthy-looking bush, about twice the size it was last year. Gave it some Vitamin B (Superthrive – smells like Poly-Visol!). Hoping for blossoms.


  • FeralJasmine says:

    Here in New Mexico I have a honeysuckle hedge, a black locust tree, wisteria, and exquisite narcissi in spring. But no gardenias. Not even potted gardenias, since our very alkaline water kills them dead. And that is what I long for; a huge rabidly blooming gardenia bush like the one at my Louisiana home. But in a few weeks the heavy, narcotic desert willows will bloom and I’ll forget about gardenias for a while.

    • Musette says:

      ooh, I don’t know that I’ve ever smelled a desert willow (or if I did, I didn’t know what I was smelling). What’s it akin to, scentwise? xoxoA