sooo….y’all know where this is going, right? It’s Spring and a old woman’s fancy turns to digging things up and moving them around – I mean, really? I didn’t look at where the sun hits when I planted a big blue hosta? Really? I’ve only been gardening for 50+ years, ever since I was old enough to be trusted with a trowel. But that’s half the fun of gardening, I think, spending Quality Time ruminating about what needs to be moved, what’s just perfect where it is….what smells great…and what stinks to high heaven.
Yep! We’re going to talk about Garden Smells today. More specifically, what should stay in the garden, what can be successfully replicated in perfume…and what should consign itself to Pluto at its earliest convenience.
My friend K’s garden (shown here) is an olfactory & visual Paradise! A gorgeous, giant linden that The Hedonist just drooled over. Antique peonies, taken from her ancestral home, line the walkways and borders, bronze fennel is just emerging, chives underplant spicy irises. To the left of that walkway is a mass of antique peonies – working in her border last week, on a warm, damp day, the scent of those peonies wafted across the lawn…and sent me back to May 1963; the outside world wouldn’t intrude on my mother’s garden for another few months and that May/June was the sound of swings and the knife and scissors man squee-squawing his way down the street…and the smell of hundreds of peonies in bloom.
I have yet to find a perfume to replicate the smell of a classic garden peony – and I am not sure it’s really possible. Roses smell like roses (and things ‘other’ combined with rose) and while it’s difficult to do well, there are enough beautifully done rose scents to prove that it has been gorgeously replicated on many occasions – even the terrifying Tea Rose
(omg. I remember DRENCHING myself in this. ow) – it says Rose. Peony, on the other hand, seems a bit more elusive. Catching whiff’s of those heirloom peonies, I realized that for me peony owes more to the stems and dirt than it does the flower. Or maybe it’s that, given that the flowers smell so much of …green? ….that I equate it more with the stems and dirt….whatever the case, I’m perfectly happy leaving the peony to the garden.
Stuff that can stay out of the garden. Out of my hemisphere. And certainly out of perfume. Rotten ‘trash elm’ trees (El O calls them ‘trash elms’ – I dunno what their genus is). We had a 35footer in our back yard and it was coming apart and falling on the house and garage (a limb plunged through the garage roof)…El O and his pal took it down to about 15′ feet and that was bad enough – I remember having to close the windows, it stunk up the joint so bad. But that? That was NOTHING! compared to the stench of getting the stump ground out.
Fish heads, ill-kept barnyard, used cow parts and ditchwater. For a split second I thought ‘oh, this is reminiscent of Dzing!’ but I lied. Dzing! is a playful nod to a circus/barnyard. That stump was the smell of where old barnyards (and their used cow parts) go to die. Two hours after the grind (and cleanup) we got a cold, soaking rain that lasted through the night. I’ve never been so grateful for a cold rain in all my nose’s days!
Is there anything in the garden (or Nature in general) that you think should stay in the garden? Whatever it is, I sure hope it’s not a trash elm!