Fragrance is always an important part of any gardening experience. There are the reliable fragrant plants, the roses and the lavenders, but it's a long, enjoyable list of flowers that offer us an olfactory treat. I want to sing the praises of two lesser known heavenly fragrances today -- Heliotropium arborescens 'Alba' and Iris pallida albo 'variegata.' Most of us are familiar with the purple heliotrope, with its sprays of bright purple flowers, but the white flowering variety is so much more fragrant it's hard to believe they're the same plant. Some say vanilla, some say talc powder! but whatever your association, the perfume is very noticeable. My specimen has been blooming nearly non-stop these last two years, catching my attention as I pass it on the walkway.
The striking white and grayish-green Iris pallida is both lovely to look at (and vigorous) and heavenly to smell. It has a distinctive "grape" smell and has to be one of the most fragrant plants found in any garden. I keep thinking 'I'm only rememebering that it smells so sweet" and when the next flower opens, there it is again, that knock-your-socks-off intoxicating fragrance. It's somehow fitting that such a sweet smell should emanate from one of the hardiest of all irises!