smell the flowers

Photo Rodney Bailey

Like usual I have flowers, cooking and gardening projects going. Today I stopped by one of the container gardens that I planted this season to see how things were looking. I ended up trimming a large disheveled looking scented geranium plant. After the first snip I realized that what I had planned to discard would enhance the brides bouquet that I am making and the extra leaves would add flavor to vegan shortbread I will use for a magazine photo shoot later this week. Immediately I went to get a container of water so I could keep the cuttings fresh and use them for these purposes.

I am sensitive to the odor of flowers. My front garden plot is full of herbs, we all run our hands across the lavender, lemon balm, mint…as we walk by to catch a whiff. I use these herbs in both cooking and flower arrangements and many of the other flowers that I get from my own garden and other sources are full of smell. However I often put a flower up to my nose that I expect to be fragrant and instead discover it is scentless. Most grocery store roses are without scent while the ones from my garden and others that I get from small growers are gloriously scented. I did a little research and learned about a few different factors that impact scent. From what I understand scent is made up of many different biochemicals that the plant produces. This make up in concert with optimal atmospheric conditions creates scent. Some atmospheric conditions such as pollution causes of loss of scent in flowers. Also it seems that many flowers are bred to last long, to withstand lots of travel time and once this is achieved scent is often sacrificed. This is a familiar story and brings to mind the mid winter supermarket tomato that looks like a tomato but does not necessarily taste like a tomato.

This season I had a couple of events where scent was a priority. A recent bouquet was composed of garden roses, gardenias and scented geranium…yes it was beautiful but also it achieved the goal of being deeply fragrant. During the summer season I will continue to search out richly scented flowers and foods.