10 January 2011

Mignonette

I can't speak for anyone else, but my preference is for the expression of truth based on the experience of the speaker. So, today while researching Mignonette, I came across a blog called Rob's Plants.

Rob's Plants is a page that I've stumbled on in the past and have always enjoyed his perspective. Here's what Rob said about Mignonette, "Grown for its scent more than its flowers. And I'm not a fragrance gardener - my nose doesn't have the heightened sensitivity required to really appreciate the garden perfumes. The flowers aren't worth the trouble, so I doubt I'll be growing it again. But heck, you gotta try all plants at least once (I have a ways to go!)"
Mignonette from Rob'sPlants.com
My interest in Mignonette stems from reading a 1927 book, "Garden Flowers" by Robert McCurdy. My mother-in-law loaned it to me from her bookshelf of historic books. The way flower descriptions were written in the romantic era captivates my imagination.

McCurdy said, "Sweet Mignonette is undoubtedly the most popular flower cultivated solely for fragrance. ... Shorn of fragrance the Mignonette would indeed be a very minor plant. ... Mignonette is a favorite for bouquets and in the garden is often put to use to break up undesirable color combinations."

My Internet search led me to Dave's Garden and there gardeners complained that they grew it for its famous scent and that theirs were unscented. I have a similar complaint about Nicotiana but that's another story.

CompanionPlants.com says that Mignonette was used as a sedative by the Romans and now the oil is used in perfume manufacture. That tells me that some growers have been able to detect a scent.

In the 1906  "The Florist's Manual" by William Scott, the first line is "It is doubtful if there is any plant so universally known or better liked than the mignonette." Then, "As a cut flower in winter it is a staple article and for that purpose is grown, good, bad and indifferent."


Mignonette - Reseda odorata from McCurdy, 1927 - other photos from the book are here
"You ought to select the finest spikes and save your own seed. The strain we grow was obtained from Mr. John N. May some years ago, and by selection it is better than when first obtained. But mignonette is very like asparagus; it is the growing and rich, heavy soil that make the giant or colossal qualities; any of the strains are good when well grown. Besides new advertised strains, some standard ones are: Bird's Mammoth, Miles' Hybrid Spiral, Machet, Golden Queen and Machet's Perfection."

Today, there are only 2 varieties that I could find seeds for but maybe they are the best or most popular.  I'm still undecided about buying the seeds. Have you grown it? Any thoughts?

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