Take a deep breath. What’s that you smell? Could it be gardenias? That is what I smell, anyway. The three shrubs in my garden are in full bloom, and their fragrance infuses the early morning and evening air. It’s my favorite flower scent, above roses even. I can catch a whiff on a light breeze and my mind wanders to things tropical like beaches, blue water, and coconut ice cream topped with Kahlua and served in a hollowed-out pineapple.
Gardenias are staples in Southern gardens. My mother once told me about someone she knew from up north who wanted a gardenia corsage for a dance because she thought gardenias were exotic. Mama thought that was so funny because being a Southern girl she knew by the end of the night that gardenia might still smell nice, but it would be wilted and brown.
This is the first year my gardenias have bloomed so prolifically. Usually they each have a few blooms, but this year they are all loaded down. My husband and I planted them as a means of establishing bones in our garden. Any garden book, magazine, or DIY show will tell you every garden needs good bones. So for the first couple of years that is what I tried to do; make a skeleton for my garden. First we laid a brick walk. Well, it’s more like a patio. We added some shrubs, some huge rocks, a low wooden fence, and a hollow tree trunk from a fallen tree. The tree trunk eventually melted away so we replaced it with a claw foot bathtub, courtesy of my sister.
All my adult life I have wanted to have a cottage garden, and this year I am working hard to make it a reality. My garden is too big for me to buy enough plants to fill it up at one time, so over the past few years I have bought and borrowed plants, adding them here and there until finally, this year I think it is going to happen. My yellow coreopsis is finally blending in with my purple salvia. My shrubbery, including pink fairy roses that were only about five inches tall when I planted them, have grown together in ways that give me perfect backdrops for my flowers, and secret nooks and crannies for staging an ornament of some kind (I do love a good garden ornament.)
So come on zinnias, cosmos, pentas, bachelor buttons, coneflowers, moonflowers, and everything else I’ve strained my back for this spring! Take note of the good job the gardenias are doing and please follow suit.
There is still a month or so before I will see any real results in my garden. Until then I will wait and enjoy, for the moment at least, my personal tropical vacation courtesy of my Southern garden’s gardenias.