Reigning Scents

In the evening, neighbors with strollers and pups on leashes come round the flat corner lot drenched in perfume.

The honey locusts are blooming. Tiny, round, olive green flowers high in their lofty crowns so sweetly scented, I could swoon.

Closer to earth, the rugged iris have cheered onlookers for a couple of weeks. When I was a kid, one of my guilty pleasures was sticking a wet finger into Kool-Aid mixed with sugar and popping said finger back into my mouth. It’s a memory evoked by the scent of iris.

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Inside the chainlink fence, three varieties of tall, bearded iris share the throne: Iris varieagta with her golden swords and grapey perfume; “Pagan Goddess” peachy, prolific, and subtly scented; and an unnamed variety from Deb’s garden, streaked with rootbeer and smelling of vanilla.

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Even closer to the earth, a bouquet of cloven pinks flirts with the golden leaves of Cotinus. Sassy devils.

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While perched on the corner of the rock garden, the bluest penstemon reigns with a stately aura, wafting a soft tanginess somewhere between fresh mown hay and sorel. Hers I would wear dabbed behind ears and in the hollow of my elbows as I drift off to dreamland.

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There to dream of meeting someone as primitive, as sophisticated, and  as cleanly scented as a tree peony, but much less ephemeral.

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Becoming

When I started Gardenhood, a little over fifteen months ago, I asked the question, “When does a patch of earth become a garden?”

Well, it’s May, the month of garden riots, the month of dawn to dusk labor for those of us nuts enough to have chosen gardening as a profession, the month when all the thinking space in my brain is taken up with what plants to get for which gardens and how to get all the annuals planted before June. So, I don’t feel capable of answering the question.

Even so, as the weeks of spring fold into those of summer, each time I go out and arrive back at the flat corner lot, I have a good feeling and recurring thought, “It’s starting to look like a gardener lives here.”

It was spring of 2010 that I began reclaiming the 900 square foot parking median from years of total neglect, and I smothered another 900 square feet of front lawn.

The median has come alive.

And inside the chain-link fence, much has changed.

Tree and herbaceous peonies have just gone to their first prom.

The smoke bush will soon be smokin’.

Nearly every day, there is something new to see.

And Edward the Handsome approves most of it. (To approve everything would be to deny his cathood).

I think, just maybe, this patch of earth is becoming a garden.