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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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For week of March 3:

* Celebrate the city flower! Catch the 100th Sacramento Camellia Show 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2, and 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Scottish Rite Center, 6151 H St., Sacramento. Admission is free.

* Between showers, pick up fallen camellia blooms; that helps cut down on the spread of blossom blight that prematurely browns petals.

* Feed camellias after they bloom with fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants.

* Camellias need little pruning. Remove dead wood and shape, if necessary.

* Tread lightly or not at all on wet ground; it compacts soil.

* Avoid digging in wet soil, too; wait until it clumps in your hand but doesn’t feel squishy.

* Note spots in your garden that stay wet after storms; improve drainage with the addition of organic matter such as compost.

* Keep an eye out for leaning trunks or ground disturbances around a tree’s base, a sign of shifting roots in the wet soil.

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

* If aphids are attracted to new growth, knock them off with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap. To make your own “bug soap,” use two tablespoons liquid soap – not detergent – to one quart water in a spray bottle. Shake it up before use. Among the liquid soaps that seem most effective are Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soaps; try the peppermint scent.

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

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

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

* Make plans for your summer garden. Once the soil is ready, start adding amendments such as compost.

* Indoors, start seeds for summer favorites such as tomatoes, peppers and squash as well as summer flowers.

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