Come Garden With Me, Planning for a Scented Garden

As holiday favorites prove, sometimes the old family recipes are the best at satisfying a hunger.

Gardening books are like that, too.

Lately, I've been reading some out-of-print gardening books written by gardeners rather than plant people. (The online book swaps, such as Paperbackswap, are great sources for these treasures. Paper and hard backs are available.)

The beautifully photographed, encyclopedic tomes are nourishing, too, but no one can grow or even have a passing first hand knowledge of the thousands of plants described in them.

I thoroughly enjoy Perenyi and Mitchell's books, too, but they gardened in a different zone with a planting schedule that is unlike our zone 7 heat, humidity, short winter and ice storms to consider.
"Come Garden With Me" is a compilation of garden columns written by Elizabeth Pickett Mills. You can tell by reading her columns that she actually is a gardener who messes with plants, dirt, houseplants, bugs, sprays and all the other time-consuming parts of gardening.

Mills wrote her column for newspapers in North Carolina from 1955 to 1979. A book of her columns is published by Parkway Publishers, Inc. a specialty publisher for books about North Carolina travel, tourism, history, etc.

Mills' horticulture schedule was similar to Muskogee/Tulsa zone 7 conditions and the book is divided into advice for each month of the calendar year.

Unlike our neighbors to the north, we are planting seeds outside in late January and February's warming days.

In planning a spring garden during the month of February, Mills suggests that all southern gardeners plant for fragrance to add charm and to improve the mood of the gardener.

The types of fragrances
1 - Aminoid
Spring flowering and fertilized by flies but never by butterflies. Hawthorn, pear, spirea and elder.
2 - Heavy
Overpoweringly sweet scent from indol and should be planted with restraint. Fertilized by butterflies and night moths. Jasmine, lilies, tuberose, lilac, jonquil, narcissus, honeysuckle and mock orange.
3 - Aromatic
Spicy scent without indol. Hyacinth, heliotrope, carnation, pinks, primrose, clematis and Nicotiana
4 - Violet
Elusive scent that fades. Violet, iris and acacias
5 - Rose
All roses, some peony, a few iris and Oregon grape.
6 - Lemon
The pleasing odor comes from citrata. Plants include four-o'clock, magnolia, lemon balm and all citrus flowers

Other fragrant flowers Mills suggests: Sweet Pea, Sweet Sultan, Sweet Alyssum, Blister Cress, Sweet Scabious, Wall-flowers, Musk Mallow, Red Valerian, Grape Hyacinth, Winter Daffodil (Sternbergia Betea) Nicotiana Alata grandiflora, Night scented stock (Mathiola bicornis) and Dame's Rocket (Hesperis matronalis).

Many of the large seed catalogs have separate sections for scented gardens and there is an entire seed company dedicated to the art. Consider planting lightly scented herbs, shrubs and flowers on the path to your back door where you can enjoy them every day.

Mills' book is available from the publisher and local book sellers.


The Diva said…
How interesting . . . I never thought of scent divided up that way. Ms. Mills sounds like Elizabeth Lawrence another favorite southern columnist. I wish our local newspapers would agree to let someone be a garden columnist. I agree with you that to read a real gardener is a delight filled with experience and opinion.
The Diva said…
She sounds like Elizabeth Lawrence, another southern garden columnist. I agree that reading an educational garden tome has its place. However, I like to know the opinions, successes and failures of my favorite garden writers. I wish our local papers (Edmond and OKC) would spring for a garden columnist. I offered my services to The Edmond Sun, but they don't have the budget. Martha, do you write regularly for the Muskogee Phoenix?

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