Put fragrance on your list of things to plant in the garden this fall. Springblooming tulips, hyacinths and daffodils are well-known for their reliability and traffic-stopping colors, but many of them also have wonderful fragrance.
Fall is the time to plant them. You may forget about them over the winter, but in spring, their surprising and delightful scents will draw you outdoors and increase the pleasure you take in your garden.
Fragrant spring bulbs can be planted wherever the soil drains well and sunlight reaches them in spring, but, to deliberately make fragrance part of a gardenM-Fs design, think about where you often walk or sit, and which way the wind usually blows.
Then consider whether you like your fragrances subtle or bold. ItM-Fs a little like choosing perfume at a department store: Some people prefer a crisp, modern scent, and others respond to old-fashioned floral fragrances. They all go rather well together in a garden, actually; by planting two fragrant tulip varieties side by side, for example, you can create waves and swirls of perfume that waft across the garden to meet you.
The effect can be quite magical, because smells are closely associated with sentiments. Some fragrances trigger memories of people or places. Garden fragrance can also be a subtle matter M-y like a butterfly on a flower, the perfume is there one moment and gone the next.
Describing floral fragrances is a little like discussing wines. Everyone has a slightly different impression of flavors, and every person will choose their own words to express the fragrance of a flower.
The Dutch, who have been growing and selling bulbs of all descriptions for centuries, have made a science of the fragrances of spring-flowering bulbs and the way people respond to them. In a study for the International Flower Bulb Center, experts produced this evocative description of the fragrance of the tulip M-fAngeliqueM-F: It has M-ta delicate rose scent,M-v they said, like M-ta leisurely bicycle ride through the pastures on a warm summerM-Fs day.M-v
ItM-Fs hard to go wrong. Here are a few good choices to plant this year.
Tulips M-tDaydream,M-v which opens soft yellow and matures to a striking tangerine orange, has a definite citrus fragrance, with a hint of tea rose. The irresistible perfume of a clump of a dozen bulbs will be hard to miss in the garden.
The sunny yellow M-tMonte CarloM-v is one of the worldM-Fs most popular tulips. It blooms early in the season; the fragrance, with touches of citrus and honey, is as fresh as the dew. It is a good companion for tulip M-tGeneral de Wet,M-v a soft orange flower with a more complex, citrus and musk perfume.
One of the best-known fragrant tulips is M-tPrincess Irene,M-v a flashy, deep red bloom with a distinct purple stripe. Its fragrance is sweet, like candy. In their study, the Dutch experts called it M-ta fresh fruity smell,M-v like M-tenjoying a lemon tea with a touch of honey while sitting on a terrace in Paris.M-v
Hyacinths bloom in mid-spring, just as the daffodils are fading. All varieties are highly fragrant. Indoors, their perfume can be cloying, but in the garden, it is very beautiful. Hyacinths are sturdy flowers; theyM-Fre a little stiff and soldierly if you arrange them in ranks, but planted here and there, theyM-Fre as graceful as wildflowers.
Daffodils M-tBaby MoonM-v is a miniature daffodil, only about 8 inches tall. Each bulb produces several small, intensely yellow flowers with a strong, sweet fragrance. The delicate, pinkcupped M-tLouise de ColignyM-v has an old-fashioned, musky perfume.
M-tSir Winston ChurchillM-v has frilly white flowers that look like gay boutonnieres and smell a little like magnolia blossoms M-y sweet but complex, with a touch of lemon. M-tBridal Crown,M-v which produces clusters of creamy flowers with a swirl of orange at the center, has a M-ttropical, exoticM-v perfume M-tfull of honey and lilac,M-v according to the Dutch experts.
Just as the season starts to slip away, daffodils of the late-blooming Poeticus group come into bloom. M-tActaeaM-v has dazzling white flowers with a tiny cup, yellow at the center with a red rim. The scent is spicy and pleasant.
Half a dozen M-tActaeaM-v flowers will perfume the flower bed around them. Their fragrance will linger in your imagination until the roses bloom.
More fragrant bulbs
Fragrance adds romance and dimension to the garden; it stirs memories, creates surprises and invites you to linger outdoors just a little longer. If you slow down to a strolling pace, or cut a few flowers for a vase in the kitchen, the fragrances will come through to you better. Here are some more fragrant spring-blooming bulbs to consider planting this fall:
Tulips: M-tPersian Pearl,M-v M-tFokker Fan Fan,M-v M-tBallerina,M-v M-tApricot Beauty,M-v M-tCouleur Cardinal.M-v
Daffodils: M-tGeranium,M-v M-tCragford,M-v M-tDickcissell,M-v M-tSailboat,M-v M-tTripartite.M-F
Hyacinths: M-tBlue Jacket,M-v M-tAnna Marie,M-v M-tCarnegie,M-v M-tGipsy Queen,M-v M-tTop Hit,M-v M-tWoodstock.M-v
Brent and BeckyM-Fs Bulbs 7900 Daffodil Lane Gloucester, VA 23061 877-661-2852 www.brentandbeckysbulbs.com
John Scheepers Inc. 23 Tulip Drive Bantam, CT 06750 860-567-0838 www.johnscheepers.com
McClure & Zimmerman 108 W. Winnebago St. Friesland, WI 53935 800-883-6998 www.mzbulb.com
Valley View Farms 11035 York Road Cockeysville, MD 21030 410-527-0700 www.valleyviewfarms.com
Behnke Nurseries 11300 Baltimore Ave. Beltsville, MD 20705 301-937-1100 www.behnkes.com