In My Garden

The spring is fresh and fearless   Lilac2020
And every leaf is new,
The world is brimmed with moonlight,
The lilac brimmed with dew …

Here in the moving shadows
I catch my breath and sing–
My heart is fresh and fearless
And over-brimmed with spring.

That’s from a poem called May Night by Sara Teasdale, but though it’s October, here in Australia, where it's spring, the sentiments are just as apt.

Anne here, in a contemplative mood. It’s a gorgeous time of year — spring and autumn are my two favorite seasons. Here, after several days of rain, the sun has come out and a gentle breeze is wafting the most gorgeous fragrances through my open window.

One of my favorites is lily of the valley with its gorgeous scent. My former neighbor had a huge spreading patch in her otherwise regimented garden, and each spring she'd bring me a bunch that would fill my home with fragrance. 

Another favorite is lilac, and I loved the way that every spring the bare branches would bud first with soft green leaves and then vibrant, deliciously scented spikes of flowers. The photo above is of the lilac on my old garden. now sadly gone, but not forgotten.

LemonTreeMy lemon tree is laden with fruit, the golden orbs hanging luscious and heavy, and sitting outside on my deck, I can smell a hint of the fruit on the breeze. I’m using the lemons for all kinds of dishes. I might even make lemon cordial (lemonade?). I used to make it every year, but haven’t for a long time now. The leaves, when crushed, are also quite fragrant. They can be used in cooking but for some reason, I’ve never done it. Now might be the time to try it.

My sage is in full purple flower, attracting the bees, which I hope will also pollinate my other vegetables that are currently in flower. I love having a productive garden, and though mine is quite small, I am currently harvesting broad beans, spinach, silver beet, mint and parsley. It’s very satisfying to harvest, cook and eat my own vegies.

Up until a few days ago I had wisteria flowering on my back fence — not a lot, just a few clumps that came over from my neighbor’s garden. I took this photo, which was lucky, because the vety next morning the flowers were gone — the possums had found them.

KangarooPaw* (1)

Possums love to eat flowers, especially scented ones, like roses and magnolias, and wisteria. Doesn’t that sound like a lovely diet? Of course they eat other things, like fruit, and lemon peel—yes, peel, not the fruit, just the peel. Last year they nibbled the entire peel from my lemons, leaving the fruit hanging intact, showing only the pith.

My native plants are also in flower — the kangaroo paw is lovely. I have two clumps—orange/gold, and dark red. They’re called kangaroo paws for obvious reasons — the flowers really do look just like the paws of kangaroos, and they're furry – velvety.

SilverPrincessblossomsThe silver princess gum tree out the front has the most beautiful flowers. Later they will become silver gumnuts — really, there is no part of this tree that is not beautiful, from the gracefully hanging leaves, to the silver bark and gumnuts. Whenever I have to prune it—it has a tendency to dangle over the footpath— I bring the prunings inside and put them in vases — they last for ages and look so lovely. The tree is a constant delight to me, all year around.

The scent of gumleaves (eucalyptus) is something that speaks to most Australians. For me, it is the scent of “the bush,” meaning the forested wilderness. Of course, the scent of the bush is made up of a wide variety of fragrant plants, plus the aroma of damp earth and bark and all sorts, but the underlying scent is that of eucalypts.

I remember, many years ago, when I’d been traveling for a year or so, I was on Corfu, in Greece, and I came across a large lemon scented gum tree. I must have been a bit homesick, because I scooped up some fallen leaves, crushed them in my hands, closed my eyes, and inhaled the fragrance — and I was home. I still remember that moment. I even kept some of the leaves.

What about you? Is there a particular fragrance that signals “home” to you? What seasonal scents are you experiencing at the moment? What's your favorite thing about this time of year?

15 thoughts on “In My Garden”

  1. Glorious, Anne! Spring and autumn, the transition seasons, are also my favorites because they are ever changing. You have a wonderful range of flowers above, some new to me, but I love, love, LOVE lilacs! We had a gigantic lilac bush on the lawn of the farm where I grew up, and it always blossomed around the time of my birthday in June. The scent is amazing. But we never had lemons growing, ever! Too far north.
    Interesting, the wonderful scent of eucalyptus also speaks to me because it’s the scent of California, where I moved immediately after college. The coast has masses of eucalyptus because they love the fog and the sea breezes, and the scent is intoxicating.

  2. Thank you, Anne, for this post. I was taken along vicariously to experience such wonderful fragrances!
    To have this where I live in NYC I would have to go into a florists shop.
    The fall season is my favorite, as well as spring, with no extremes of temperature. I like the neutral and calm feeling.

  3. I wish I was in your garden right now, Anne, it sounds wonderful! I too love spring and autumn best, as well as lilacs and lemonade. I’ve never had a lemon tree but it must be very handy! Right now our garden is preparing for winter, so it smells of moist earth and leaves. I can hear the rain whispering outside the window onto the Virginia creeper, which is turning bright red. One of the smells I like the most is that of newly cut grass, but there are lots of flowers that are amazing as well. Lovely post!

  4. Thanks, Mary Jo. I really miss my old lilac, and hope to buy another one. II suppose it gets too cold in winter for lemons to grow where you grew up.
    How interesting that the scent of eucalyptus evokes California to you. I believe that American miners who came to Australia during the 1850’s gold rushes took the trees back to the US — they’re indigenous to Australia—and California would be the perfect environment for them.

  5. Glad you enjoyed it, Patricia. I feel the same about the “in-between’ seasons. And don’t flower shops smell gorgeous? Sometimes, f I happen to walking past one, I’ll pop in just to breathe in the beautiful melange of perfumes.

  6. Thanks, Christina — I was surprised when I learned how few home gardens in the UK grow lemons. It had never occurred to me, as they’re ubiquitous here in Melbourne, and we think we have a climate much like most of the UK. But we don’t, really. I learned this interesting fact when a reader wrote to tell me that the character in one of my books who had a lemon tree — wouldn’t have! And of course, it immediately occurred to me that of course, that’s why rich people had orangeries. I know that, but hadn’t put two and two together. It’s the things I *think* I know that catch me up in my writing, because thinking I know something means I don’t look it up!
    I nearly mentioned the scent of freshly cut grass, too— I love it—but felt I had enough. And I envy you your lovely Virginia Creeper — it was the autumn star in my old garden.

  7. It sounds like we have the same taste in flowers. I love lilacs and lily-of-the-valley, I’ve got both in my garden, as well as a big wisteria vine. I’ve never been to Australia, but I associate eucalyptus with southern California, and also Israel where a lot of them grow-I guess the climate in certain areas is similar.
    For me, there is a woodsy, mushroomy smell in the fall that is very nostalgic. It reminds me of the forests around where I grew up.

  8. I grew up in a house that had both front and back lawns. In theory my brothers were supposed to keep them mowed, so I remember the smell of freshly cut grass. My mother liked to grow flowers, so I also remember the smell of roses in the garden. I used to go out in the garage and the office attached to it to avoid everybody and read in peace or use the phone to call my friends without eavesdroppers, so I remember the smell of motor oil and gasoline, because one of my brothers worked on cars there. There were typing supplies in the office so I remember the smell of typewriter ribbon and fresh paper as I wrote my stories and papers for school. And on days when there was a special dinner, my mom would usually do a pie, so I remember the smell of lemon meringue and cinnamon apples in the kitchen. When she lost that house, we moved to one not far away that seemed cold and hostile to me because it just didn’t smell right.

  9. What a wonderful post and I loved the pictures. Lilac – a wonderful scent that took my heart when I was a small girl. I could get behind the lilac bushes and sit and have wonderful adventures in my mind.
    Thanks for this post and the beautiful pictures.

  10. Thanks, Karin — I pretty much love any flower with good fragrance, and I envy you your lily-of-the-valley and your lilacs. Yes, countries with warm/hot dry climates are where eucalypts thrive. And I also love the fragrance of a forest.

  11. Janice, the scent of freshly cut grass is lovely, I agree. And I understand the pleasant association of the smell of gasoline and motor oil. I love the scent of rain on hot tarmac.
    I still remember the smell of my grandmother’s house — it’s quite evocative.

  12. Thanks, Annette, I’m glad you enjoyed it. What a lovely memory, sitting behind the lilac bushes in your secret place. In one of the houses I lived in as a child, I made forts and cubby-houses under a grove of pine trees, where the ground was inches deep in fallen pine-needles, and the smell of pine-needles takes me back, every time.

  13. I’m always amazed at what a variety of different flora AU has. Some of it is otherworldly to this Texas gal (kangaroo paw and silver princess gum tree). Thank you for sharing!


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