Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Pacific Northwest

October, 2006
Regional Report


Scent in Your Garden
It's a pity that Scent in Your Garden isn't a scratch-and-sniff book. What a feast of fragrances it offers! Written by Stephen Lacey (Little, Brown and Company, 1991; $40) with glorious photos by Andrew Lawson, this book calls to mind the scents of garden favorites like mock orange, peonies, stocks, and sweet rocket. And the book goes much further, with chapters on aromatic trees and shrubs, roses, annuals, bulbs, vines, perennials, and greenhouse plants.

I found many familiar fragrant plants and many that I never considered. If nothing else, the book will send you on a trip through the garden, sniffing flowers and leaves that you simply may not have appreciated for their scents.

Lacey is English, so some of the plants described are not suitable for warmer areas of the U.S., but most will flourish in the Pacific Northwest. With this caveat aside, this book is a valuable springboard, encouraging us to give more thought to a fully sensual garden.

Favorite or New Plant

For many years I admired a 6-inch-tall, yellow-flowered plant with finely cut blue-green foliage much like the leaves of a fringed bleeding heart, growing among the rocks at the edge of a pond at Longwood Gardens. There in the shade, corydalis (Corydalis lutea) seemed never to be out of bloom. Finally, I ordered some for the woodsy areas of my own garden where, to my amazement, they bloomed all summer, even in fairly dry shade. During July, when the weather gets hot, blooming subsides a little, but with the cooler nights of fall, flowers come back strongly.

Corydalis is not easy to grow in containers, so it's scarce in garden centers. Although it self-sows in gardens, it is difficult to grow from seed commercially. Corydalis needs shade and cool, moist soils. It does not grow well in warmer winter zones, but thrives in our region.


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