Orange Hawaii being only one example, many years of gardening have embedded not only the experiences of smell, sight, sound, taste and touch but also those of success and joy, failure, disappointment – and VARIANCE! I’ve learned where and how to trust and distrust that promise on the back of a seed packet (or the picture on the front) to my own inclination to bite off more than I can chew (or plant). When it comes to the nuances of plant performance vs. Horticultural marketing – a purported lack of scent, specific or limited range of height, awesome-and-heretofore-unprecedented flower color, “complete mixture of all colors” (you know – the complete mixture where EVERY plant blooms only in pink!) or some other magically illustrated or worded qualifier as depicted on packaging, within a catalog’s pages or online – the only thing proven to me is that season after season, the garden surprises the gardener, not the other way around. Today’s “odorless” border giant is, alas, tomorrow’s chicken feed.
I’ve also gleaned much from my own observation, experience and mistakes – since childhood, a legion of mistakes, I now know when to be a skeptic, and when to put on the brakes. Or, turning to the aromas of the moment, just when and from what distance to stop and smell the Stargazer lilies.
Early in my career I found myself driving a delivery truck (a box van, fortunately not a semi) full of them – greenhouse forced, potted and blooming out of season, stuck in afternoon traffic on a warm spring day. I soon became delirious with their scent, initially pleasing though more obnoxious by the minute and the beads of sweat that poured from my brow quickly turned to rivers. I was only too happy to unload them! The memory, more than two decades later, still sticks in my nose.
So it’s no matter that today they’re flowering ten yards away – to enjoy them on my own terms I hardly need to budge an inch!
(Please read on – there is some astounding REMINISCENCE just around the corner!)