When I sat still, I decided a scented climber was what my garden needed
Gardeners rarely sit down, for long at least, in their gardens. Once you do, you spy an errant weed or a plant that needs staking or something else to do other than sit – and off you go again. But sitting is a good thing for both you and the garden. When you are always busy, you are not necessarily observing the bigger picture. Sitting down allows you to pull back from the detail and take it all in.
I have an iron bench that I have been dragging round the garden for years trying to find its perfect spot. Then a week ago, in some fine spring sun, I hauled it over to the furthest corner and, after the effort of carrying it, sat down immediately to catch my breath.
I’d never sat in this corner before: it is bordered by a neighbour’s slightly ramshackle shed to the right and the compost bins to the left. But sitting there I realised that my eye is drawn, not to these, but up the sloping garden to the patio. I was so used to looking down the garden that this new view was revelatory, in part because I found it so pleasing to look at the back of the house, clothed in a handsome fig and a rambling grapevine.
To entice me down that way again I’ve planted a Lonicera similis var. delavayi, an evergreen honeysuckle that is fairly vigorous in nature, so I hope will cover the fence and hide the shed. It is known for its long period of blooming, from June right the way through to the end of autumn. The creamy white flowers are deeply and deliciously night-scented, making it the perfect companion for a warm summer’s evening.
Trachelopsermum jasminoides would be another scented climber for a sheltered spot. For shrubs there’s mock orange Philadelphus ‘Manteau d’Hermine’, growing to just 4ft high and gently wafting its heavenly scent about without fear of its overtaking your seating.
If you want an evergreen choice, Mexican orange blossom Choisya x dewitteana ’Aztec Pearl’, that flowers in May, will also keep a nice compact habit. And if you don’t have space for shrubs and climbers, try some annuals sown now: night-scented stock, Matthiola longipetala subsp. bicornis is truly heady and a delicate little thing that can be tucked in around the leg of your seat.
For a little more drama, try Nicotiana alata ‘Grandiflora’, which is the most scented of the tobacco plants. It does best in a little shade and can be sown now to plant out in early summer.
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