By Joy Johnson, Master Gardener
Inhaling all of the delightful smells is one of the many joys of gardening. Come along with me and bring your nose on a fragrance tour around my yard.
Walking out the front door on a cool spring day the slight breeze brings us the soft velvety scent of roses. Climbing up both ends of the trellis along the front walk are Lady in Red roses loaded with blooms that smell like my grandmother’s rose milk hand lotion. In-between the Reds are hardy white bush roses giving off a moderate clove-like aroma.
Meandering across the lawn we enter the front rock garden and squeeze our way between two large burgundy leafed smoke bushes. Plucking a leaf or two releases a eucalyptus fragrance. I often cut arm loads of branches to use in large bouquets which fill the house with a refreshing, clean scent. Stepping on the creeping lemon geraniums is unavoidable, no need to apologize, that’s why I planted them across the path. A fruity lemony fragrance greets our noses when leaves are brushed or bruised. They are prolific growers, so no harm is done. Breathe deeply and enjoy.
In front of the creeping geraniums are the peonies. Laden with pink and red blooms our noses pick up the soft intertwining fragrance of jasmine and rose. Walking out of this garden, across a narrow strip of lawn, our eyes see cheery white blooms and our noses detect the orange blossom smell coming from the mock orange bush.
Strolling across the grass, we stop, noses in the air, where is that slightly sherbet, fizzy, powdery and plummy smell coming from? It’s hard to describe, so just bury your nose in the tall bearded English irises. The blue and purple ones have large fragile flowers that are deliciously scented.
Heading downhill on the south side of the house, our noses detect the piney aroma of arborvitae’s fanlike branchlets warming in the sun. Tucked underneath, in a shady spot, as we round a corner of the house our noses pick up a spicy, green and sweet smell with hints of lemon. Smiling we stoop down to spy the delicate, nodding white blooms of Lily of the Valley.
We’ve just about made it around the entire yard, all that’s left is the herb bed. Lemon basil, French basil, parsley, rosemary, oregano, marjoram, sage, winter savory, and thyme are all growing here. Plucking a few leaves from each plant and rubbing them between our fingers treats our noses to a scent-sation!
Walking beneath the open kitchen window we catch a whiff of rosemary and ginger. It’s time to follow our nose back into the house and enjoy a snack of warm rosemary shortbread and fresh ginger tonic. Recipes are below – Enjoy!
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp plus 1 pinch kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted cold butter cut into 1-inch chunks
1 or 2 tsp honey (a dark full flavored type if you have it)
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, pulse together flour, sugar, rosemary and salt. Add butter and honey and pulse to fine crumbs. Pulse a few more times until some crumbs start to come together, but don’t overprocess. Dough should not be smooth.
- Press dough into an ungreased 8- or 9-inch square baking pan or 9-inch pie pan. Prick dough all over with a fork. Bake until golden brown, 35-40 minutes for 9-inch pan, 45-50 minutes for 8-inch. Cool pan on a wire rack. Cut into squares, bars or wedges while still warm.
2 quarts water
1 thumb size piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
A small handful of Basil, lemon, green or purple; dried, frozen or fresh
About 5-6 leaves of Mint; dried, frozen or fresh
½ to 1 Tbsp lemon juice (put this in only if you don’t use lemon basil)
In a large covered pot, bring the water and ginger to a boil. Reduce heat and let it simmer for at least one hour, covered.
Turn off the heat, add the lemon basil and the mint. Let this steep for at least an hour, can be left to steep overnight.
Pour the tonic through a strainer into a pitcher.
If you didn’t use lemon basil, add up to one tablespoon of lemon juice and the honey.
Enjoy warm or cold. It also tastes delicious mixed 50/50 with sparkling water.