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Is there a ShoppingGirl out there who doesn’t adore flowers? We know that some ShoppingGirls who suffer from allergies must avoid them (sadness! But at least you can enjoy pretty faux floral arrangements.) But many of us are particularly fond of beautifully scented flowers.
Surely we each have favorite blooms for different moods and applications: Cheerful bundles of daffodils nestled into an heirloom pitcher on the kitchen table to stimulate workday-morning enthusiasm; a bundle of garden roses tucked into your favorite rose bowl for a touch of romance on your nightstand; or a secret, sensuous mini orchid in a river pebble pot that can hide in the most cluttered workstation. Every ShoppingGirl feels particular harmony with certain types of flowers.
Most ShoppingGirls likewise have similar emotional relationships with their chosen perfume. Some love to be known for wearing just one signature scent; others like to change it up depending on the place, time and event; and some ShoppingGirls like to spoil themselves by experimenting with new scents. (A great way to experiment, by the way, is to purchase inexpensive samples of unusual perfumes from online sellers such as FragranceX.com.)
A ShoppingGirl will often find that she develops a particular fondness for a flower based in large part upon its evocative scent. Such a fragrant flower may remind her of a particular place during a happy time in her life, a beloved relative or friend, or perhaps just because it puts her in a mood, whether happy and spirited, or calm and meditative. The power of scent is well proven, and a ShoppingGirl can take advantage of this to further enhance her life, and the lives of those around her. For example, for ShoppingGirls who have children, don’t neglect to develop positive scent associations for them from childhood, to provide them with a richer, fuller experience of the present and their future memories of the past.
Since so many ShoppingGirls not only love flowers but love to garden, here are a few flowering plants that are famous for their fragrance. Used in the perfumery arts since prehistorical times, as evidenced by the inclusion of beautifully scented flowers found in ancient burial sites, we know that scented flowers have long been valued as the natural treasures that they are. Humans have a deep-seated response of comfort and ease when surrounded by such natural delights. Reclaim the benefits that lovely and fragrant flowers bring to your life in your garden or indoor plant collection.
There are far too many wonderful scented flowers to include all of them here. Roses, for example, are so well known and adored that there is little need to mention this Queen of Flowers. ShoppingGirls who garden also know that, while all kinds of roses can be found, they are not always the easiest flower to grow, and are not one of the easiest scented flower options to grow in containers or indoor environments. So, instead, here are a few possibilities that can be grown indoors and outdoors with little stress. True, every plant has its ideal conditions and, if you disregard these preferences, you can still flub and miss out on stellar blooming results. But hey, learning anything is done at least partially by failure, which helps one to narrow in on the steps that do work. So dig in and be creative with your perfumery floral fun!
HYACINTHS: These stunning multi-bloomed flowering bulbs have an old-fashioned, cottage vibe, along with a potent and rewarding fragrance. (Note that there is another flowering plant known as hyacinth muscari, which is more of a ground cover; also pretty, but not the classic hyacinths we are talking about here….)
You get an entire mini-blooming column garden from just one bulb. Even better, hyacinths will pretty much grow themselves with little attention from you. Planting them is easy, as is the case with most flower bulbs. Whatever container you choose, if you are planting in soil, just barely cover the bulbs; if you are planting using gravel, pebbles, marbles, or handfuls of loose gemstones you have lying around (a ShoppingGirl can dream, can’t she?), nestle the base of the bulbs down into the water level.
Another beautiful way to grow and display a hyacinth is the hyacinth vase. It’s a pretty glass container with a fat lower belly to hold water (and the growing hyacinth roots), a narrow “waist” to keep the bulb from slipping too deeply into the water, and then a small upper cup to hold the bulb. Just fill the vase with enough water so that the bottom of the bulb is submerged (not too deeply!) and set the bulb on top. Change the water every few days as needed.
If you’re worried about the freshness of the water (in any container, with any bulb or cutting you are growing), you can purchase activated charcoal nubs online or from the fish department of your pet store.
Hyacinths are great because you can grow one practically anywhere. Classic Hyacinth colors include pink through magenta and lavendar to purple. You can also find them in white, yellow, and peach shades.
Hyacinths fall into a family of plants that can be poisonous to dogs and cats, particularly if they consume a large quantity of bulbs. So, if you happen to have knuckle-headed pets who might decide to try noshing on these, you probably should only grow them at your office or other non-pet environments.
LILY-OF-THE-VALLEY: A classic old-fashioned flower and scent and wedding favorite, every ShoppingGirl should grow these at least once in her life. They are an incredibly charming, stunningly fragrant, delightfully girly flower. They also, by the way, have particularly nice, sculptural, rich green leaves which are attractive in and of themselves. The flowers “weep” down from an arched stem in bell-shaped clusters, with ruffly scalloped edges.
Not only are they easy to grow in Gardening Regions 2-9 (which is, most of the USA), if planted in suitable conditions (they like it somewhat cool, shady and moist), they can become invasive. This can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on whether you do or do not want them to multiple and spread.
Lilly of the Valley in a Terra Cotta Pot. Photo via Pinterest.If you have a shady, moist area in the yard that tends to stay bare because nothing else likes to grow there, this could be a lovely option. You can also grow them in containers. Because of the inherent beauty of the entire plant, combined with the incredible fragrance, these make particularly nice container plants. As with Hyacinths (and a great many plants), these can be toxic if consumed, so keep that in mind if you have children or pets.
PLUMERIA: Otherwise known as Frangipani, is an ancient, famous perfume scent which is still very popular in the 21st Century (and will probably always be). Plumeria plants are tropical flowers, with a pretty, somewhat stylized, simple form, making them great for stringing into leis, one of their frequent uses.
If you’ve been to any of the Hawaiian or Polynesian islands, you probably developed a great fondness for their wonderful, naturally well balanced perfume fragrance. The plant resembles a succulent shrub or tree in some ways, with large, shiny green leaves, and flower clusters in crown-like forms all over the plant during the flowering season. The classic flower color is a vanilla white, often tinged with some yellow and/or pink, but you can get Plumerias that produce flowers in many sherbet like blushings. The leaves and flowers do drop when the plant goes dormant (once yearly), but the bare succulent branches take on a sculptural look that is especially nice for those with a Xeriscape, Zen, or tropical landscape design.
If you don’t live in Gardening Regions 9-11, you can grow Plumeria indoors. They grow quite easily from “cuttings” which, in the case of Plumerias, are really just chunks broken off at the logical narrowed sections along the stems. Water thoroughly but then let the soil dry out before watering again, and fertilize it fairly often. As to toxicity risk for children or pets, the Plumeria is a mild risk, as if the sap is consumed it may cause irritation to the digestive tract.
FREESIAS: These are smaller, delicate, but eye-catching flowers that are easy to grow and pack a lot of punch with their pretty summery colors and refreshing floral fragrance. Freesias are grown from small bulbs, and thus can be tucked in just about anywhere in your garden or even small containers with excellent, charming results.
A feminine, somewhat trailing flower cluster forms, with a graceful, slightly weeping effect, and the buds opening over time from the base to the tip along the top of the stem, giving them a very picturesque look. The leaves are a pretty, slender grass green. The entire plant is attractive, but the flowers take center stage.
While Freesias appear delicate, they are fairly sturdy little plants, and will even grow well amongst the sand and rocks in a cactus garden.
Freesias are a popular choice for wedding bouquets due to their delicacy that goes well with wedding apparel trends, their fragrance, and pretty colors and shape. These make a great choice to add to a container garden or hanging basket where you want some flowers hanging over the edge, but that won’t take over like some vining plants might do. Freesias will spread over time, developing into patches and creating more flowers year after year. Freesias are considered non-toxic to people and pets, but of course it’s never a good idea to consume plants that aren’t specifically meant for consumption.
NARCISSUS: These beautiful bulbs are intense. This ShoppingGirl once fantasized about filling her cottage with hand-thrown terra cotta pots she found at the best nursery in San Diego, with dozens of narcissus blooms, as a celebration of Spring. So She Did. When she came one one afternoon, all 60 of the flowers had broken free into their fresh, first blooming. She had to flee her cottage due to the overpowering intensity of the fragrance they released. Potent is not a sufficiently descriptive word.
After moving all of them into the garden instead, the powerful, lovely floral fragrance combined with the sunny, ocean-kissed breezes, worked the appropriate magic, and the tall, white, fluttery blooms looked delightful filtering sunlight and shadow among all of the other garden blooms. So, with that warning, may I suggest you consider the delightful possibility of growing no more than 5 or 7 of these iconic Art Nouveau beauties in your own home?
As with most bulbs, Narcissus are pretty much foolproof to grow, as long as you don’t immerse the entire bulb in water. Typically white, with a Sun-shaped outer ring of petals and a small, flirty cup in the center, Narcissus also can be found with yellow, pink or peach cups, overall yellow coloration (like the similar daffodil flower), double petals, or ruffled cups, in all sorts of heights and sizes. There is, simply, an incredible variety, each of which is so charming that you will want one of each (why not try several?) The flowers (generally 3 to 6 buds or so) appear at the top of a tall, emerald green stalk with elegant strap like leaves. The flowers produce copious amounts of intoxicating perfume and last for days, as the different little buds open over the course of a week or two. As with many beautiful plants, Narcissus are toxic if consumed, although considered generally mildly so unless a large quantity are eaten.
JASMINE: This scent is well known to most ShoppingGirls, goes way, way back into the depths of history, and comes from a delicate, white flowered vining plant that is, generally speaking, not badly behaved for a vine. Thus it is well recommended if you are looking for a perfumery fragrant vine.
There are tons of varieties of jasmines, but the classic is a delicate looking vine covered in pretty, small green leaves practically snowed over by tiny star shaped white flowers. The vine is a classic in cottage gardens, as it climbs so prettily over picket fences, arbors, trellises, and around the bases of bird baths. Some jasmine are night-blooming, the fragrant white flowers making them an excellent choice for a Moon garden. ShoppingGirls who work all day, or who reside in hot climates, should consider adding a fragrant Moon garden to the yard, to enjoy when you’re actually at home and the temperature is most pleasant. Jasmine has a distinctive fragrance quality, being pretty and floral, but with a sense of heat and intensity to it, that is unique. One nice thing about growing beautifully scented floral vines is that some of them produce flowers that you can add to your bath. Jasmine essential oil, which will seep from the flowers into your warm bath water when you toss a few handfuls in, not only smells lovely, but is good for your skin. (Honeysuckle can also be recommended for this purpose, but the vines are much more vigorous and invasive in some regions.)
Jasmine can be grown indoors and one fun way to do this is to create a small topiary shape for it. A simple circle made of grapevines which you can purchase at a craft store, adhered to a stick plunged into the center of the jasmine planting pot, will create a pretty living wreath you can display on your mantle or wherever you like. Another easy and pretty choice is to make a globe topiary. ShoppingGirls can also easily purchase pre-shaped topiary forms, which you just set onto the pot (or, secure in place with a few bobby pins or the like pushed around the frame and into the soil). As the vine grows, wrap it around the form to create the topiary. You can do this outdoors too. A topiary of jasmine is a fairly easy way to add some “WOW!” factor to your landscape, and children in particular adore animal shaped topiaries.
ShoppingGirls, what fragrant perfumery flowers do you love the most? Some we haven’t mentioned, besides roses, include:
- Violets (which, along with Violet leaves, are also delicious and high in Vitamin C). Easy to “candy” and safe by using the pasteurized egg whites in a carton available at your grocery store.
- Dianthus, a type of Carnation in a smaller, cuter form, typically with a warm floral fragrance touched with cinnamon.
- Lavendar, the all-time classic, and also a great DIY crafter’s delight for ShoppingGirls who like to work with scented herbs and flowers.