WINTER COLD has simply lastly descended right here, and I’m already lacking the smells of the rising season, from the vary of flowers to only brushing up towards herbs out by the vegetable backyard.
Ken Druse encourages us to increase our season of scentual gardening. That’s S-C-E-N-T—scentual, as in perfume, and as within the title of his ebook, “The Scentual Backyard.” He urges us to incorporate extra-late and extra-early backyard producers and particularly some indoor stars for a full yr of perfume.
Longtime good friend Ken Druse, who gardens in New Jersey, is the creator of 20 backyard books, concerning the many fragrances the plant world can supply, which is our subject immediately. (Above, considered one of Ken’s aromatic favorites, Cestrum parqui.)
Plus: Enter to win a duplicate of “The Scentual Backyard” (affiliate hyperlink) by commenting within the field close to the underside of the web page.
Learn alongside as you hearken to the Nov. 23, 2022 version of my public-radio present and podcast utilizing the participant beneath. You may subscribe to all future editions on Apple Podcasts (iTunes) or Spotify or Stitcher (and browse my archive of podcasts right here).
aromatic crops of the offseason, with ken druse
Margaret Roach: Hello, Ken. I’m prepared for some good fragrances.
Ken Druse: Oh, I’m glad, Margaret, as a result of I do know that you’ve got a, what’s it? Decrease dangerous scent.
Margaret: I do. I’ve a really perceptive little nostril and so scents, if I like them, it’s tremendous, however boy…
Ken: Yeah, I do know.
Margaret: Nevertheless it’s humorous as a result of you possibly can come inside and it’s dry and it’s scorching. It’s the heating season all of a sudden. We didn’t have that till this previous week the place I’m, as a result of it was unseasonably heat. However now it’s like, nicely, besides if you’re cooking there’s no actual perfume. Are you aware what I imply? Besides if you’re cooking.
Ken: Right here, there’s, as a result of I’ve obtained a few bowls stuffed with some uncommon fruits, they usually scent [laughter].
Margaret: Yeah, nicely since you’re so intelligent, you at all times keep in mind to have these type of, nearly like potpourri, proper? The outdated days of potpourri and so forth.
Ken: Besides these are actually pure.
Ken: We develop a tree referred to as Pseudocydonia, which is Chinese language quince and it has stunning bark. It’s type of patchy, like camouflage and really late. It nonetheless has fall colour, it nonetheless has nearly all its leaves and it has type of, not that fairly fruit, however the perfume within the bowl [above, at Ken’s]. You may scent it from about 30 toes away and fortunately it’s very good, however it’s very advanced. It’s like pear with apple and guava and citrus and violet all combined up, and it hits you want, you understand how cilantro, you possibly can nearly really feel it as you scent it?
Margaret: It’s not considered one of my favourite fragrances.
Ken: And we may discuss why that’s, as a result of it’s an entire large genetic factor. However I simply imply in the way in which that cilantro, you possibly can nearly really feel it. So it is a perfume you possibly can nearly really feel.
And one thing else that we’ve been speaking about that’s so stunning—I at all times get them for a bowl on the desk within the fall. After which once they begin to go—they usually final a very long time—I transfer them to the place I obtained them in order that they are going to be the place they could develop, though they’re from the Midwest they usually develop right here. The Osage orange, it’s additionally referred to as hedge apple, and it was very talked-about as fence publish materials as a result of the wooden lasts a really very long time. It’s very onerous wooden, they usually used to make furnishings out of it, outside furnishings even. However the perfume of those humorous gnarly, they’re nearly like brains they usually’re beautiful chartreuse colour.
Margaret: Proper. Chartreuse brains [laughter].
Ken: Yeah, chartreuse brains the scale of softballs; they most likely weigh nearly a pound a chunk. They usually scent like grapefruit and ginger, however actually it’s indescribable. It’s an exquisite, great perfume. [A bowl of them at Ken’s, below.]
Margaret: In order that’s Maclura?
Ken: Maclura pomifera.
Margaret: Pomifera. Proper.Settings
Ken: And pom- is like apple.
Margaret: And so it’s humorous as a result of the opposite day I despatched you the hyperlink, I texted you a hyperlink or one thing like that after I noticed that Ned Friedman, the director of the Arnold Arboretum up at Harvard College, he posted on Instagram an image of at a crosswalk the place there’s slightly button the place if you wish to cross, you press the button and there’s slightly metallic field that has the button, and Don’t Stroll, Stroll, and many others.
And above that, on the highest lip of the little field with the button, there was considered one of these Osage oranges sitting, its inexperienced mind as you say, this hedge apple sitting there. And he stated, his caption was one thing like, “Solely on the Arnold Arboretum” [laughter]. We all know when somebody picked that up and put it there. However it’s humorous as a result of you will note them typically within the roadsides by the place there are some bushes, you’ll see an entire crop of them on the bottom.
Ken: I labored in Washington quickly a few instances and folks hated them as a result of they’re planted as avenue bushes, and the fruits used to fall on automobiles and dent the automobiles.
Margaret: To return to that Chinese language quince only for a second. In order that plant, the place does it develop? What precisely do… As a result of I feel quince, I feel both an enormous shrub or a tree or one thing. So what does that once more?
Ken: It’s a tree.
Margaret: It’s a tree. O.Okay.
Ken: Chinese language quince. And quince—nicely, even the fruit quince has a really unusual and great type of pear-apple scent. And quinces are nonetheless utilized in perfumes, together with Britney Spears’s Fantasy.
Margaret: And now do you develop the Pseudocydonia? Do you develop the Chinese language quince tree?
Margaret: O.Okay. And so it’s not like with the Osage orange, you discover one someplace and also you seize it and use it for its… Take pleasure in it in its aromatic season in a bowl or no matter. So that is one thing that you simply develop.
Ken: Yup, as a result of it’s a really stunning tree. It has patchwork like a Cornus kousa, you already know? It’s stunning.
Margaret: The bark?
Ken: Mm-hmm. The bark, proper.
Margaret: Oh, fascinating.
Ken: After which it has shiny pink leaves and it’s within the rose household. So I used to be going to say it’s shiny pink leaves like a pear, however we don’t wish to discuss pears.
Margaret: That’s bringing us to the… And I assume that you simply’re saying that these fruits are produced within the fall, so that is one thing that you simply would possibly nonetheless be having fun with if you happen to had had a crop they usually’re nonetheless in adequate form to have that good perfume.
Ken: Proper, most likely nearly to Christmas, nearly.
Margaret: Oh, O.Okay.
Ken: And these should not edible fruits. I do know all people needs to develop one thing edible, however it received’t hurt you. I don’t assume the Maclura, I’ve by no means tasted it, however it most likely is terrible. And the Pseudocydonia, the fruits are as onerous as wooden.
Ken: One yr I attempted to, I had an entire bunch and I attempted to make jelly and I did what you do to make jelly. I feel I obtained about six ounces of jelly [laughter] from the whole-.
Margaret: Good. That was day within the kitchen.
Ken: … kettle full. They’re actually onerous as wooden.
Margaret: O.Okay. That’s the autumn and the place we’re having the final of issues. And I used to be fascinated with, in anticipation of speaking to you, I used to be attempting to assume, nicely what was the final great scent that the backyard had? And I just like the scent of fall leaves, when it first all comes undone and it’s a dry day. And it’s not that I don’t like that, but-
Ken: Have you ever ever owned a katsura tree?
Margaret: I don’t have one.
Ken: We’ve three [laughter] and totally different ones and we had some company this final weekend and I can’t scent it, however individuals stroll via the backyard they usually say, “Cotton sweet. It smells like caramel, it smells like caramel.” And it’s the yellowing and fallen leaves of the Cercidiphyllum japonicum. However to not me, for some motive. And I can scent every little thing, however I can’t scent this tree. Nevertheless it’s well-known for its cotton sweet perfume.
Margaret: And it’s a fantastic tree.
Ken: I interrupted you. Yeah. Oh, nicely, we’ve got two totally different weeping ones [above, at Ken’s, one of the weepers] and the species.
Margaret: No, it’s O.Okay. So what are its different, I imply when it comes to rising it, we’re not simply going to develop it for the cotton sweet scent of the fallen leaves, however what are a few of its other-
Ken: Nicely, if you happen to consider Cercidiphyllum, the leaves are like a redbud, like Cercis.
Margaret: Like Cercis.
Ken: So it has very fairly leaves, yellow fall colour. And I’ve two weeping ones. One is ‘Morioka Weeping,’ which fits tall and the branches weep to the bottom like a weeping willow. And the opposite one’s referred to as ‘Pendula.’ And it’s quick, however it makes new branches and stems the entire season. So it’s type of like Cousin It [laughter], it’s obtained a mop look. However then the leaves turned yellow and once we have been strolling via the backyard, the leaves have been on the bottom and the company stated, “Oh, what’s that scent?”
Margaret: Any perfume? Sorry: Any flowers? Any flowers earlier or something?
Ken: Oh, on the tree?
Margaret: On katsura.
Ken: No, however it’s actually a fantastic tree, although.
Margaret: And I ought to have stated originally, let’s do a giveaway of “The Scentual Backyard,” your ebook, which is so beautiful and actually delves into why issues scent and all of the ranges of scents in the entire pure world. I imply it’s actually in-depth. So all year long and so forth and many stunning photos.
However I used to be fascinated with how within the fall, I do know, developing within the New 12 months, and typically for me it’s January, typically it’s February right here within the north nation. I’ve the Asian witch hazel hybrids which have one of many first scents of the brand new backyard. However do the autumn witch hazels, the native Hamamelis virginiana, have they got a scent? I’ve by no means really gone, I’ve them across the fringe of my property, native ones simply that have been there.
Ken: They’ve fall colour, and sadly, or a few of them—it’s bizarre, a few of them drop their leaves so you possibly can see the flowers, a few of them don’t and the flowers are obscured. I imply people, I don’t know what it’s. And a number of the people have a really slight perfume, however a few of them don’t. Perhaps it’s the time of day, however the perfume is like witch hazel within the bottle. It’s probably not alcohol-y, however it’s that humorous clear witch hazel astringent scent, however very slight. It’s not just like the great ones that we’re going to have within the spring. Just like the hybrid x intermedia sorts and in addition the native vernalis. And that’s like spring proper, vernal? Do you’ve any?
Margaret: I don’t have any vernalis, no.
Ken: I develop one which’s a dwarf referred to as ‘Quasimodo’ [above, at Ken’s]. It got here from Damaged Arrow Nursery and it’s solely about 2 toes excessive and a couple of toes large. And it’s coated with flowers within the spring for a really very long time. And the perfume, if I needed to say what’s it like? I’d say Juicy Fruit gum. It’s a really fruity, candy scent and never too far-off.
Margaret: I’ve a few of the intermediate, the Chinese language-Japanese witch hazel hybrids, that once more bloom simply after the New 12 months right here. They usually have a candy perfume. I’ll must verify in January, February and see if it’s Juicy Fruit gum for them, too. However yeah.
After which after all, in order that’s the opposite finish. We simply closed out the season, and we have been speaking about a number of the issues that had scent. After which when it begins, even earlier than the primary occasion of the rising season, that many people know what we love about, what aromatic crops we love-
Ken: The flowering bulbs, for instance.
Margaret: Proper, proper, proper. So actually, then it begins to essentially—a lot of potentialities. However what concerning the offseason [laughter]? Within the north, we’re indoors now so much. So any hope?
Ken: Nicely we have been speaking about smells we like and smells we don’t like. And also you made me consider paperwhite narcissus, as a result of so many individuals give it its personal room as a result of they hate the scent a lot. And it’s type of a fragrance, however it’s simply an excessive amount of.
It’s obtained a chemical compound in it, that’s the explanation it’s disagreeable. However I’ve grown a few varieties. One’s ‘Inbal,’ perhaps you’ve seen that. And ‘Wintersun’ is one other one. They usually’re not the large Israeli ones. And the perfume is way softer, in order that’s attainable. And it’s nice to pressure them, it’s really easy. They don’t want chilling or something. You simply put them in some water between November and January, after which they bloom.
Margaret: Yeah, that’s fascinating that some are much less intense scented as a result of I positively don’t just like the tremendous. And that chemical, is that the chemical indole? Is that the way you say it? I keep in mind that out of your ebook.
Ken: It type of smells like, politely, mothballs, however it’s really in excrement. So the explanation persons are sensitive-
Margaret: Wait, that’s what which means? That’s what which means?
Ken: Indole. I don’t know the way it got-
Margaret: Oh, however that’s what it smells like. It’s just-
Ken: To me it smells, I’m going to let you know what it, it smells like outdated urinal muffins, which you’ve most likely by no means smelled [laughter].
Margaret: No. Being a woman and all, however yeah, that’s proper. Precisely. So yeah, not good. Not good.
Ken: Not good. Nevertheless it’s really in some perfumes, they put it into it, as a result of from a distance in very small quantities—it’s in nearly each daffodil. It’s great, it’s candy, however an excessive amount of of factor is an excessive amount of.
However proper now within the sunroom, the citrus have began to bloom, which is early. They normally begin in January, February. And orange blossoms, lemon blossoms, they’re thick. However that’s an exquisite perfume. Do you develop any citrus in any respect?
Margaret: I by no means actually have. And I used to be at a good friend’s and neighbors the opposite night they usually have two large ones that they’d hauled in from outdoors. Then they put them out within the rising season they usually have them of their lounge. The pots are nearly hip with the thigh excessive. And I don’t know in the event that they’re 24-inch large pots; they’re actually large. They usually’re bushes—I imply, these are bushes. One is a lime and one’s a lemon. And the lemon, particularly, it was coated in fruits. They weren’t yellow but, however it was coated in fruits. And I used to be like, “What did you do?”
Ken: Yeah, I used to be going to ask you that, “What did they do?”
Margaret: “How did you make this…” They stated that they’ve had a lemon for 5 years. Once more, they put it outdoors within the backyard within the rising season. However then it is available in, and it’s in a south window. It’s of their lounge, so it’s not prefer it’s super-cool or something.
Ken: Or humid.
Margaret: Proper. They usually stated that they offer it, or perhaps as soon as a month they offer it some fish emulsion, I assume just about yr spherical, which isn’t a super-hot lot of fertilizer or something. And that, I assume in the course of the rising season, they’d given it perhaps a kind of plant spikes or one thing, some sort of fertilizer stick type of factor that you simply put within the soil that was meant for, rated for citrus. And I don’t know the model, which I may attempt to discover out. They usually water judiciously, slightly sparingly within the offseason. However boy, I used to be like, “Wow, that is superb.” [Laughter.]
Ken: Do you keep in mind if it was flowering and fruiting on the similar time?
Margaret: It was not fruiting, excuse me, flowering proper now. However I’ve been there the place, in different years the place there was this stunning scent in the lounge in addition to fruit nonetheless hanging. Sure.
Ken: Nicely, that lemon was most likely Meyer lemon-
Margaret: I feel it’s a Meyer. Sure. Sure.
Ken: Which is, I assume it’s a hybrid of a [mandarin] orange and a lemon. And if it’s a must to attempt to develop a citrus, that’s the one to develop. It’s actually probably the most forgiving and the simplest to develop to get fruit. And if you happen to’ve obtained a south window, oh boy. And if it’s cool within the winter, oh boy. And if you happen to can summer time it open air, it’s attainable to have your personal fruit. And the fruit scent great, too.
Margaret: Oh, sure.
Ken: I develop one other one. Have you ever ever seen Buddha’s hand [above, at Ken’s]?
Margaret: Yeah. Nicely, solely that you simply’ve proven me, however yeah.
Ken: At Wave Hill they’ve great ones. The fruits appear to be—they’re large they usually appear to be octopuses as a result of they’ve all these tentacles, and there’s no moist fruit to eat. It’s all pith inside, however that’s one other one. You may minimize that and put it in a bowl and for a month, you’ll have a fantastic, stunning perfume, which is good perfume-orangey. Nevertheless it’s nice.
Margaret: So perhaps strive citrus, huh? I would do that, I would do this and see what occurs. As a result of there’s simply one thing so, I don’t know. It’s like having not simply perfume, however a harvest within the winter. Are you aware what I imply?
Ken: Yeah, after all.
Margaret: It a lot completes the yr, which is nice.
Ken: What are they going to do with all these lemons?
Margaret: They’re very fascinating. They prepare dinner so much. And one of many two, he makes sorbets and stuff. They make ice cream, numerous baking, jams, jellies, no matter. And really we had some lime sorbet after our supper [laughter]. So I assume if life offers you lemons, make sorbet, proper? Is that the deal?
Ken: [Laughter.] Completely. I’m so glad to listen to that they used them because-
Margaret: Yeah, completely. Yeah, they love them, yeah. So what kind of different home crops that you’d say we may give a strive if we wish some indoor perfume?
Ken: Nicely, I’ve a houseplant that’s associated to one thing you and I each skilled [laughter]. It’s a type of Cestrum.
Margaret: Uh-oh, I do know what you’re going to say.
Ken: However Cestrum parqui [photo, top of page] doesn’t scent like Cestrum nocturnum. It’s a a lot lighter scent. However they’re actually nice, and flowers are yellow. And the wonderful thing about it, it’s by no means out of bloom. This factor blooms at all times. It’s at all times in bloom and it solely smells at evening, so it’s within the sunroom. I don’t scent it except I am going and discover it. And as I stated, I really assume that the Cestrum nocturnum scent is, nicely, it’s extra perfumy and it’s definitely sturdy. And we guess that because it was associated to peppers and Solanum crops, is that proper? Solanaceae-
Ken: …crops within the pepper household that perhaps the molecules within the air may very well be harmful to somebody who’s delicate.
Margaret: Nicely, since you and I, simply so individuals know why you’re saying I’m delicate to it’s as a result of 1,000,000 years in the past we have been at a cocktail party. It was really out on a terrace, however the plant was proper near the desk.
Ken: An enormous plant with heaps of-
Margaret: And because the night got here on, the night-blooming jasmine, Cestrum nocturnum did its factor and I nearly did my factor for good [laughter].
Margaret: That was nearly the top of Margaret.
Ken: We needed to escape.
Margaret: I at all times questioned about, it is a complete apart, however a number of the lilies that folks, together with floral preparations and so forth on a dinner desk, a few of them are simply so perfumy to me, a few of them.
Ken: And you’ll’t style the meals.
Margaret: No, precisely. And that’s what, it spoils it too. Even when it doesn’t make you sick, it makes me type of wheezy. However anyway, so is that this Cestrum parqui?
Ken: P-A-Q-U-I-I. [Update: It’s parqui, Ken realized after the taping.]
So what about true jasmines? As a result of that’s not a real jasmine, though the frequent identify is jasmine, proper?
Ken: Proper. Nicely, I very very similar to and in addition can develop Jasminum sambac [above, at Ken’s] and the one that everyone has is ‘Maid of Orleans.’ There’s a lot of totally different alternatives and double ones. I can’t develop any of the opposite ones. However Jasminum sambac ‘Maid of Orleans,’ little flowers and the perfume is jasmine, however it’s not that deep lily-like perfume of a number of the jasmines. It’s a really heat, excessive perfume. And for me, it by no means has greater than—nicely it may need 10 flowers, they usually’re tiny. They’re smaller than dimes most likely. However I like that scent.
Margaret: Is it like a viney factor or what’s-
Ken: No, it’s shrubby.
Margaret: Shrubby, and so does it get very large? I’m attempting to visualise how-
Ken: Nicely it doesn’t get large for me. And it’s not a reasonably plant. It has O.Okay. inexperienced leaves, however I don’t have a south window like some individuals, so every little thing right here is type of leggy, and a department goes a method and a department goes one other means. And I’m after flowers, so I simply wish to maintain all these flowering components going. And it doesn’t bloom year-round, it blooms principally within the spring and summer time. However that’s a very nice perfume. I used to develop Jasminum, I feel it was grandiflorum, which is the one which’s in Chanel No. 5. Oh. And that’s a vine. Vine-
Margaret: And that’s why I requested, as a result of in my head I had jasmine is a vine and visualizing vine. So I will need to have…
Ken: And the flowers are larger they usually’re like—I used to be going to say spiders. Nicely, they’re stars they usually have a lot of little factors and really totally different trying flower.
Margaret: So I’ve to only know, can I presumably develop a gardenia [laughter], as a result of… Can I do this? Have you ever ever? Do you succeed with them?
Ken: I feel you could possibly. Are you able to develop rosemary?
Margaret: You imply indoors within the winter? Yeah, I’ve one cool type of a mudroom with good home windows. Yeah.
Ken: I feel that’s the place the gardenia [above, at Ken’s] would make it. The one gardenias that I’ve seen outdoors of greenhouses in properties have been proper by the entrance door the place the draft is, which isn’t so good, however in very cool locations for the winter. After which the watering is like, oh my God, an excessive amount of, or too little too late. You understand how that’s, if it dries it dies. But additionally if it’s overwatered, it rots. So it’s a must to actually watch out.
Most likely if you happen to had a cool place, you could possibly ignore it a bit. Most likely. It’s most likely an excessive amount of care is what will get them. And now there’s numerous totally different ones. There’s even “hardy ones” to love Georgia, a couple of totally different sorts. They are saying Zone 7, however you already know they are saying stuff. They.
Margaret: Yeah. Yeah.
Ken: Individuals telling them-
Margaret: The authorities.
Ken: … We’re not in Zone 7, however I do know that there are some which might be hardier now. However you possibly can develop them. I don’t know if you happen to’d wish to develop them.
Margaret: Yeah, give it a strive.
Ken: It’s sturdy.
Margaret: Oh, O.Okay. It could be an excessive amount of for me. No, it’s simply, it’s that type of a factor that we’ve all heard about them, and seen them, and it’s aspirational or no matter because-
Ken: Those you’d develop as a houseplant or in a greenhouse if you happen to weren’t in manufacturing, the flowers are like an inch and a half. They’re not like these gigantic ones you could typically get at a florist which might be 3-1/2 inches throughout after which they flip yellow and you may float them in a bowl. It’s a really good present, I’d say, birthday present for somebody. One flower.
Margaret: Nicely, I’m going to try for a yr of scent, because of Ken Druse, creator of “The Scentual Backyard.” Thanks, Ken.
(All pictures by Ken Druse.)
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