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16 October 2014
Gardener's Corner

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Winter 2004
John Cushnie On...

Scent From Seed
1st April 2005

Growing plants from seed never fails to impress me. “Giant oaks from small acorns” or even begonias from seed as fine as dust is amazing. Where I am in total awe is that tiny seeds have the power to reproduce the fragrance of their parents.

SweetpeaThink of the small, round, hard seeds of sweet pea. Ten weeks after sowing they are in flower and exuding the most incredible perfume. Even with your eyes closed there is no mistaking the scent of sweet pea.

Ten week stock, Night scented stock and Brompton stock are easily grown from seed flowering in the same season. Wallflowers sown in summer will be in flower by late winter. Their perfume is more noticeable after a shower of rain.

The tobacco plant, Nicotiana sylvestris, is an annual that is sown in spring, flowers during summer and autumn and dies before winter of the same year. It quickly grows to 3-4 ft in height. The candelabra of drooping, pure white, tubular flowers are incredibly fragrant.

The annual pinks such as, Dianthus ‘Magic Charms’ only grows to a height of 10-12 inches making it ideal for bedding, edging borders or as temporary gap fillers for the rockery. The highly scented flowers are a blend of white, cerise, soft pink and deep red.

Scabiosa atropurpurea ‘Ace of spades’Most of the scabious are without fragrance but Scabiosa atropurpurea ‘Ace of spades’ has fully double, dark red, scented flowers that are ideal for cutting.

Some of the new, dwarf, annual lupins such as Lupinus elegans exude a sweet pea-like fragrance in the evening. Sow the seed in a heated greenhouse and plant them out in late May in a sunny border or plant 3 or 4 in a large container for the patio or either side of the front door.

If you like the scent of coconut then grow the new Nemesia ‘Shooting Stars’. It is an easily grown annual that germinates quickly when sown in a heated greenhouse or the kitchen window sill. The fragrant, yellow and white flowers are eye-catching. Space the bushy plants 9 inches apart to prevent them becoming congested.

For something different try the upright flowering annual Datura meteloides ‘Evening Fragrance’. Growing to 40 inches in height with slate-blue foliage it is a striking plant for use in a container. The mass of large, open funnel shaped, pure white flowers produce a charming light perfume in the evening.

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