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What's the most fragrant flower in your garden?

Pink flowers on long stems
Naked Lady amaryllis is an old-fashioned favorite with a distinctive spicy scent. (Photos: Debbie Arrington)
Time to smell the roses and much more

Lily blossom
Blooms on the lily tree are over 8 inches across.
Get out and smell the roses; that's advice that gardeners (and rose lovers) often share.

It means to forget your current worries (which we have many during this COVID summer) and enjoy the little things in life through the bounty of nature.

But roses aren't the only sweet-smelling blooms in the summer garden. These fragrant flowers have scents so strong, you can even smell them through your face mask.

Not only do these fragrant plants bring people joy, they're often bee favorites, too.

Surrounded by roses, the most fragrant blooms in my summer garden really stand out; the plant is more than 6 feet tall. It's a lily tree, a cross between Asiatic and Oriental lilies. Like those other lilies, it has a sweet, intense fragrance. The king-size blooms (more than 8 inches across) attract loads of bees, too.

Mme. Antoine Mari is one of many fragrant old garden roses
at Sacramento's Historic City Cemetery.
Here are more fragrant summer suggestions:

Roses: The classic example of a garden perfume maker, roses can be all over the fragrance map. Some have a musky smell, others offer a citrus or licorice scent. The most fragrant roses are old garden varieties that predate modern hybrid teas. Combining that heady rose scent with modern disease resistance, Austin shrub roses can fill a garden with fragrance, too.

Lilies: Besides the giant lily tree, the shorter Asiatic and Oriental lilies also offer rich perfumes. (Stargazer, a popular florist variety, is an Oriental hybrid.) Rubrum lilies have an intense fragrance that people either love or hate; one cut bloom can fill a room.

Amaryllis: Naked Lady amaryllis, those pink flowers that seem to pop up out of nowhere, have a vibrant, spicy floral scent. It's used in perfumes.

Gardenia: An old-fashioned favorite for corsages, this beautiful shrub blooms in early and late summer.

Ginger plant
Ginger likes the shady area of
the garden.
Ginger: This Hawaiian favorite adds tropical scent to the Sacramento garden. It prefers a shady spot.

Jasmine: This vine or ground cover offers a distinctive scent that adds a tropical note to any garden. In the evening, its scent seems to be at its strongest.

Honeysuckle: Another old-fashioned favorite, this vine can quickly become a garden thug. But the bees love it.

Lavender: The fragrance star in the low-water garden, this herb is another bee-pleasing favorite. It also makes wonderful potpourri.

Sweet alyssum: Perhaps the strongest scented annual in the late spring and summer garden, this low-growing white flower smells almost like honey. No wonder it's another bee magnet.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 19:

Spring will start a bit soggy, but there’s still plenty to do between showers:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Watch out for aphids. Wash off plants with strong blast from the hose.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to fight blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees as they start to blossom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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