Early Summer Scent

23 June 2016

We may not be experiencing an early English summer, but early summer scent has very much arrived.  It seemed to start in May with the Wisteria sinensis, hanging in clouds on the facades of houses across the country, and hasn’t stopped since.  The wet weather helps scent cling on, sitting in the air for much longer than on open airy days.

Hedgerows and deciduous woodland have much to offer for the early summer scent-hunter.  Crataegus monogyna (Hawthorn) and Anthriscus sylvestris (Cow Parsley) provide a sweet, soft background to rural walks and pave the way for the more floral, and edible, Sambucus nigra which arrives later on.  These wild smells are easily replicated in our gardens, in orchards and along boundary lines.

Now is the moment before the big hitters, such as Jasmine and Philadelphus, arrive and so softer scents can take centre stage.  It is also the time for the rose, without which no English garden would be complete.  Our favourites are those with a softer colour, but a louder scent: The Generous Gardener, Sombreuil and Sweet Juliet to name a few.  There is very little that beats brushing past the scramble of a scented climbing rose in the middle of June, no matter how grey the day.

- Elizabeth Tyler