There is nothing like being enveloped in a cloud of intense fragrance to jolt you into the here and now. Most of us are not disciplined enough to focus on the moment, but whether in a natural landscape or garden, that is where we ought to be to savor its beauty. Strongly fragrant plants can prod us into engagement with the present.
The Springs artist Margaret Kerr made an enclosed garden at her home and studio overlooking Accabonac Harbor using only plants and elements found in medieval cloistered gardens. Surrounding the house and scattered about the property are the brick carpets for which she is renowned. .
If it’s possible, I think I love my garden best in winter and find it more exciting than in spring. That’s because something is in flower, and most often it is fragrant, nearly every sunny, warm day from Christmas week on. Spring, when everything explodes into flower at once, can be overwhelming. So much is happening that it all becomes a big blur. But in January and February, the garden slows down, and it is easier to appreciate and luxuriate in each of the garden’s treasures.
What? How could it be October when jolts of fresh colors and sensuous fragrance have been reverberating in the garden all month?
I don’t mean the last roses of the year or the Coreopsis Full Moon that has been flowering its little yellow heads off since July in the Mimi Meehan Native Plant Garden.
Gardening, so it is said, is the manipulation of nature. However, some of the most electric, as well as subtle, compositions within a garden can occur through happenstance: The gardener introduces a packet of seed or a seedling given by a friend and nature takes over, often for decades afterward. It is the gift that keeps on giving.
When most of us think about clematis (accent on first, not second syllable), we seldom get beyond the large-flowered climbers that adorn mailboxes, lampposts, and other gawky supports. They may look gorgeous in catalogs and exhibits at the Chelsea Flower Show, but in my own experience at least, the large-flowered vines have proven to be problematic at best, as the foliage and roots succumb quickly to clematis wilt, a fungal disease.