Reading Rob's comment about Melianthus major smelling of peanut butter has got me thinking about plants with curious and wonderful smells. Why isn't more made of them?
In the wine sector, could anyone forget how Jilly Goolden of the BBC 'Food & Drink' programme waxed lyrically and passionately about wines with a nose or taste compared to liquorice, or pear drops ... even rubber. Did they really? The descriptions were often, in my view, wildly over the top.
In the whisky world, the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (www.smws.co.uk) has built its business over the same period with such ridiculous descriptions of the malts they sell that I have often imagined how they go about it. The esteemed selection committee assembles in the Society tasting room in their Vault in Leith. One after another they try the new bottlings, and with each wee drammy they pen the description - an act of collecting together whatever comes into their collective heads. As the afternoon wears on and more drammies are consumed, the output becomes more and more far-fetched and flamboyant. How else could you account for descriptions like the following:
"The aromatic nose displayed geranium, bog myrtle, aromatherapy oil, soy sauce, lavender and clove – but also bacon, lobster bisque, smoked chicken, seaweed, honey, doctors’ surgeries and flower shops. The neat palate was huge, mouth-filling and long-lasting, with a heavenly flavour combination of scorched heather sprigs dipped in honey, caramelized onions, charcoal, chutney and smoked fish. The reduced nose was hijacked by caraway seeds – gripe water, Kummel, salami with caraway, rye bread and stir-fried Chinese greens with soy sauce. The palate became sweeter – sugar-coated pistachios and sweet barbecued ribs with echoes of salted sea biscuits, lavender and tar."
Yes really, all in a single malt! Gardeners, I suspect, are more down to earth. But take the scent out of gardens or cut flowers and what would you have? Fragrance is so intrinsic to gardening that it is easy to overlook smells as basic yet wonderful as freshly cut grass or newly turned earth.
So this is a call to share the genuine scents and smells from the garden that enchant or fascinate you. Come on, we have far more to rave about than the wine and spirits industry!
Here are two from me to kick off: the heavenly scent of the stately Nicotiana sylvestris on a summer's evening and Iris foetedissima which, when you tear a leaf, never fails to intrigue with a smell of roast beef for Sunday dinner.