Friday, June 6, 2014
A Real Stinker
We have a personal connection with many of our plants. Some were gifts from lady gardeners of age wanting to help the youngsters develop an interest in plants. Meadow sage, Salvia pratensis, was discovered by us while on an outing with our daughter when she lived and worked in New York City. Her time there allowed us to experience things that we would otherwise never have encountered. She took us to the top of the World Trade Center and we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset. We experienced a Monet exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum and enjoyed many visits to botanical gardens. One Mother's Day we met her at the train for a visit to Wild Flower Island. Meadow sage was offered for sale there and we bought it.
Both the color and form of these blossoms appeal to us. Blue flowers dominate in our collection of plants and we have a connection with this plant. Every time I see it memories of that special day with Amy fill my mind. This plant does have an extremely unpleasant trait. Its smell powerfully reeks of a scent that is reminiscent of extremely foul body odor. That reminds me of a member of a college gym class that we shared. His gym clothes were clean only when he visited his mother and those visits were infrequent. The beautiful blue flowers and the connection with a Mother's Day past always win out and this plant stays with us despite its stench.
Black locust, Rubinia pseudoacacia, boasts a scent that is at the opposite end of the spectrum. Its delicate sweet fragrance rides on the breezes and it can wrap itself around you unexpectedly. Many flowers have a pleasant aroma but it is frequently strong. Not so with locust. You can stand with your head in the tree surrounded by its smell, and the experience remains subtle. If I were a perfume manufacturer, this is a presentation that I would try to copy. Sweet beyond expectation but understated.
We are far North of this tree's natural range. Here, it is frost sensitive and flowers appear perhaps one year in five. Following our bitter Winter, warm days were slow to find us. That delay kept many plants and trees dormant long enough to escape death by late frost. Here we have another rare treat and we did not miss experiencing it. I have to admit that the sweet smell found me before I noticed the magnificent display of pure white flowers. I spend most of my time looking downward trying to find safe passage across our old pastures. Fortunately for me, this treat found me.