Extremely fragrant plants have always interested me. Partly this is for historical reasons. I love reading about how fragrant flowers were soaked in wine, stuffed into songbirds before roasting, made into poultices, chaplets, unguents, syrups, and otherwise utilized in concoctions many centuries ago.
I also love that fragrance is an entirely other realm beyond beauty. Some plants have one quality or the other, and a few have both. Jasmine is one of these plants. There are a few varieties which are hardy in the Northern garden, and these are not fragrant. The amazing ones have to be brought indoors in the winter, where they don’t exactly thrive, at least not for me. But spring comes just in time, and the withered plants are sent outdoors where they recover, and begin to bloom by the end of June.
The easiest and showiest is the Jasmine pictured above, which I’m going to call fragrant jasmine, because that’s how it’s referred to in the White Flower Farm catalog. I can’t figure out the Latin name, but maybe someone can help me out with this. Polyanthum?
But my favorite is the fussy Grand Duke of Tuscany, whose double ivory blossoms smell like jasmine tea. This image shows it just about to open, and I would have liked to get an image of it in full bloom but that would have meant postponing my vacation, which I considered, or bringing this large plant with me in the car, which I also considered. Reason eventually prevailed.
The most fascinating is the night blooming jasmine. Its tubular-shaped green flowers smell exactly like nothing all day long, but once night falls the fragrance is so strong one small branch can perfume a room, one plant a whole house. For some people this is too much fragrance, but not for me.