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Life as a Scot in California

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Smell or no Smell?

Posted by berkeleyscot on January 24, 2008

I am enjoying the fragrance of a bunch of narcissi which I placed on the dining room table.

I like to have posies of flowers around the house and when the flowers in my own garden bloom, I will have a great selection of spring flowers to choose from. I’m especially looking forward to the freesias and their cheerful colors. But they have little to no fragrance.

Soon, the jasmine, which climbs along the north fence, will bloom and that is probably the only thing growing in the garden which has a distinctive fragrance. I remember, in my first spring in Berkeley (1979) smelling jasmine everywhere I went.

Eventually, I noticed that I didn’t smell any other flowers or plants in the area.

This was so different from my memories of gardens in Cambridge.

I remember, when we lived in Cambridge, walking home from the Churchill College Archives in the summer evenings. I walked past bungalows with well-tended gardens, with their displays of gnomes and prize-winning roses. The roses perfumed my walk.

Now, thirty years later, I walk around our small town, admiring the gardens. A few have rose bushes, but there is no fragrance, not even after a shower.

Is the climate really so arid here that the flowers have no fragrance?


2 Responses to “Smell or no Smell?”

  1. Richard G said

    No Margaret – it’s often because flowers are more and more bred for size, show and colour than for their smell. If you look in flower breeder’s catalogues, even for “smelly” plants like roses ought to be, you will often find a sort of ghetto of varieties with scent, and often sold at a premium. What used to be the norm is more and more seen as added value or maybe just curiosity.

  2. Mary C said

    I love to have scented lilies in my home – I put them in the front room and open all the doors, letting the fragrance permeate the house. I agree with Richard G, so often flowers are bred for their appearance – and I would SO prefer to have a nice, smelly flower that didn’t look quite so perfect!
    One real nostalgic memory for me is the evening scent of honeysuckle outside our back door in East Kilbride. Ah, those were the days!

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