DemosNews: Old Fashioned Bushes Beloved for Scent
Old Fashioned Bushes Beloved for Scent
By: Kate Collins


  • Viburnum carlesii (Koreanspice viburnum)
    Humble, non-descript bushes most of the year, but when the buds pop late spring they spill unforgettable, clove perfume. Tuck one under a back window, or along an oft frequented path to delight unexpectedly. Introduced to cultivation 1812, zones 4-7.
  • Syringa vulgaris (Common Lilac)
    I love the old-time ones that grow to cloud sized billows and swathe old farms and homesteads with scent all over New England and the Midwest. Unfinicky, they sucker wildly. Dig out a piece from Grandma’s or a friend’s; even a stranger might feel inclined to be generous. Carried from southern Europe in the 16th century, zones 3 to 7.
  • Rhododendron viscosum (Swamp Azalea, 1731)/ R. arborescens (Sweet Azalea, pre-1814)
    Dainty East Coast natives that flower for me (zone 5b) mid-July, when other rhodies have passed and their scent especially delights family and visitors. Grow best in moist, acid soil, zones 4 to 7.
  • Rosa rugosa
    My favorite of all the old rugosa hybrids—hardy, effortless, expanding to huge drifts, big double magenta flowers richly perfumed (fabulous to decorate a chocolate cake!), large red (tasty) hips. Reblooms. France 1901
  • Philadelphus coronarius (Sweet Mockorange)
    I prefer the naiveté of a single row or whitest petals, rather than the double form, but both fill the air with the honeyed scent we remember. Brought from Southeastern Europe and Asia Minor mid 16th century, zones 4 to8..
  • Tilia americana (American Linden or Basswood)
    Of course this isn’t a shrub, but a large pyramidal tree 60 or 70 feet high. However it comes irresistibly to mind when thinking perfume. The scent is so rich that, as Hugh Johnson puts it, bees stagger drunken from its blossoms. In Europe, when their tilia (known there as lime trees) flowers freshly open early morning, friends gather to pick and dry them for tisane. Our American cousin occurs naturally in the Midwest and East, from Canada straight down to Texas, cultivated 1752.

© 2021 Kate Collins of DemosNews

June 24, 2008 at 7:28am
DemosRating: 4.33
Hits: 1330

Genre: Home (Flora & Garden)
Type: Creative
Tags: viburnum, lilac, rugosa, mockorange, linden, rhododendron

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