Everyday Gardeners

Plant. Grow. Live.

Fragrant Flowers

One of my favorite sweet-smelling vines is in bloom in my Atlanta, GA garden right now:  Confederate Jasmine. I started it a couple of years ago over a corner of the fence where I wanted to cover the fence wire and it quickly filled out over a 5 ft x 5 ft area. Confederate Jasmine is a great climbing option for a full sun spot and mine happens to get a few hours of afternoon shade. With the potential to grow up to 20 ft wide, I’m hoping mine will cover a whole side of the fence!

You can see behind the fence here how quickly my garden gets shady – it is dark back there! I’m happy to have a few areas like this one where I can enjoy the flowers and smells that come with full sun!

Confederate Jasmine will tolerate almost any soil type, judging by the soil here. It wasn’t great soil to begin with, despite my soil-amending attempts, but I also planted the roots right next to the concrete footing for the fence post. Rookie gardener alert! Lucky for me, this confederate jasmine forgave its inexperienced gardener-mom and produced a great show of fragrant blooms from the start!

Novice gardeners, if you’re in need of a sunny climber, treat yourself to a Confederate Jasmine. You won’t regret it.

Photos by Whitney of The Curtis Casa

LavenderI have a bit of an odd relationship with lavender (Lavandula). On one hand I love it: The plant looks good, smells great, and has attractive foliage that fits in well with just about everything I’ve ever tried to plant around it. Plus you can cook with it; try strawberry-lavender ice cream for a tasty summer treat or lemon-lavender cookies any time of hte year. Yum!

But sometimes lavender annoys me. Why? because it gives so many of you (my readers) trouble. The other BHG garden editors and I get a ton of reader questions through Garden Doctor about this beautiful plant.

The most common mistake most people seem to have when growing lavender is that they grow it too wet. This herb wants full sun and likes to stay on the dry side, especially in winter. I’ve actually had great luck with it on the edge of the rain shadow created by the eaves of my house.

Lavender is also a perfect choice for containers; they give you the advantage of being able to move it around, so if you’re having a party on your deck you can place pots of lavender where your guests can easily brush by to release that wonderful, relaxing fragrance.

I sometimes personify the plants in my garden. It’s interesting to think of them as archetypes: Hybrid tea roses, for example, become beautiful, but fussy prom queens; baptisia a completely self-sufficient farmboy who gets the job done; and passionflowers the  foreign-exchange students who many folks never get to know because they seem too exotic.

And there’s calendula — the quiet, shy girl everyone seems to overlook even though she has such a wide range of talents. I don’t grow calendula in my garden every year, though I really should.

The bright yellow or orange blooms are perfect for adding a dose of color to the spring landscape. The flowers attract bees and butterflies and appear over a long season. Both the foliage and the flowers are edible (and fragrant!). While bitter on their own, the flower petals make a great garnish and I’ve been told you can use them as an inexpensive  substitute for saffon. Or if you don’t want to cook with calendulas, they’re great cut flowers. Though calendula is an annual, it often self-seeds when it’s happy, so plant it once and you may always be able to enjoy it in your garden — or have seedlings to share with gardening friends.

Chocolate Cosmos

Chocolate Cosmos

My friends know me to have two big weaknesses: plants and chocolate. So it’s only natural that I’m intrigued at combining the two.

And apparently I’m not the only one who thinks that way, given the number of plants that have chocolate in their name, including ‘Chocolate Chip’ ajuga, ‘Summer Chocolate’ mimosa, ‘Chocolate Soldier’ columbine, ‘Milk Chocolate’ foxglove, and ‘Hot Chocolate’ rose. As you might guess, these plants all feature rich, purple or brown foliage or flowers. (Garden design hint: These plants typically look extra gorgeous when paired with light blue flowers such as lead plant, flax, bachelor’s button, or blue lobelia.)

If color alone doesn’t suit your chocolate cravings, try chocolate cosmos (Cosmos atrosanguineus) and chocolate daisy (Berlandiera lyrata) — both of which actually smell of chocolate.

And top your chocolate garden off with cocoa hull mulch. This fine-textured mulch really does smell of rich, wonderful cocoa as it helps the soil hold moisture and keeps back weeds. (One note: Cocoa hull mulch is poisonous to dogs should they decide to eat it.)

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