Last week, I was doing a monitoring inspection of one of my favorite places at MU — the greenhouses.
It is a delight to come in from out of the cold and not-so-colorful landscape to all the “eye candy” there. Gigantic tropical landscape specimens loom overhead, 7 feet or more tall. They have been happily basking in the warmth of the greenhouse all winter.
In one greenhouse room I was in awe of the Martha Washington geraniums, all in full bloom. Another room is full of towering Amaranth patiently waiting to be harvested.
Amazingly, you can drive through campus and see the glow of the Ernie and Lottie Sears Plant Growth Facility at night with the 6-foot corn growing toward the strong light while it is 10 degrees outside.
These greenhouses are just wonderful for the senses.
But, before my escort could open the next room’s door, I could see one of my favorite smelling flowers, stocks. Oh my gosh, walking into that room was overpowering with wonderful fragrance; I thought I had died and gone to heaven. It is something you just do not run into very often in modern flower gardens today.
With all the advances in horticulture plants, more disease resistance, more blooms, longer-lasting blooms, larger blooms, double-triple blooms, keep-forever-in-a-vase blooms, the growers have lost the fragrance. But, the customers have been demanding the return of the fragrance of Grandma’s old-fashioned flowers, memories of childhood, simpler and slower times. Like the saying: “Take time to smell the roses.”
I always seek out certain annual flowers each year. My husband thinks I am fussy, and I am. I always look for the deep purple “thick velvet-textured” petunias just for their outstanding fragrance. I can come home late at night and be overtaken by their sweet fragrance at my backdoor. Plant your fragrant flowers so that the summer southerly winds waffle the fragrance across your sitting area in your backyard or into a bedroom window.
Finding those fragrant beauties might seem like a challenge, so go on a “scentsational” adventure this planting season. You can type in “fragrant flowers to plant” and do an Internet search, go to your library, visit with a farmer’s market vendor, ask your neighbor, visit specialized local nurseries that carry fragrant rose bushes and other good-smellin’ flowering plants.
There are more than 50 hostas listed as fragrant flowers, “Honeybell” being one of them. So take the time this spring and summer; bend down and smell the lily of the valley, roses, petunias, hostas, stocks and other fragrant beauties.
Karen Ballew works at the MU environmental health and safety department, has been a Master Gardener since 2002, has lived on the Ballew Century Farm for the past 25 years and loves to dig her hands in all sorts of horticultural adventures. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.