As a flower farmer in Charley's Forest Farm, I quickly discovered that our cool climate of heavy frosts (and even snow) was not suitable for most of the Australian natives used in the floral industry. Instead, I discovered a whole fragrant world of European cottage garden plants, such as roses and peonies, herbs and scented foliage as well as deciduous trees, like oaks, beeches, maples, and chestnuts which all flourish here.
Little did I know, the farms in this area had been engaged with harvesting scents since the 1800s. People harvested eucalyptus leaves from Eucalyptus radiata and E. dives, (Broad and Narrow Leafed Peppermint Eucalyptus) which were distilled into oil for healing and antiseptic purposes. Thankfully, these trees still stand on the farm today and are allowed to regrow naturally. I came here to make a flower farm, but I hadn't anticipated the bounty of fragrant therapeutic plants and flowers that I would cultivate. Though I had a plan for where many of my plants should go, these plants had their own ideas. What happened instead is a tamed chaos, with a garden and the nearby fields full of scents competing for my attention.
The promise of exploring this world of scents captivated me and I'm inviting you to come along on my journey into my scentual terroire. As each season passes, I'll be sharing how I am creating my therapeutic scented garden. Planting and exploring these fragrant wonders have taught me that curiosity is key and that the diversity of smells around us is something worth celebrating.
Things to do in May
Tip #1 Create a seasonal table.
Set aside one small space on which you can arrange and autumnal still life, wheat sheaves, pumpkins, gourds, Indian corn, bouquets of dried flowers and preserved autumn leaves
Tip #2 - Preserve autumn leaves
1. Preserving autumn leaves was a favourite pastime for Victorian women. Select large branches, when the leaves have first turned their beautiful crimson, orange, and gold, and before they start to fall, just as you would flowers. Split the stems of your branches about seven centimetres from the bottom: stand them in a bucket of warm water for several hours.
If any leaves begin to curl remove them. Prepare a solution of glycerine (available at pharmacies and some supermarkets) and water by combining one part glycerine with two parts water. Bring the solution to a boil, simmer gently for ten minutes, and let sit until completely cool. Cut the bottom of your stems at a very sharp angle and lightly hammer the end; stand your branches in the mixture, storing your container in a cool, dark place until all the glycerine mixture has been absorbed (about a week to ten days).
When you first notice tiny beads of glycerine forming on the leaves, remove the stems, wipe down the leaves with a damp paper towel, and let the leaves dry thoroughly. Your leaves will stay beautiful and bright for several seasons.
What a gift of grace to be able to take the chaos from within and from it create some semblance of order.
- Katherine Paterson
Tip #3 - Plant some fragrant daffodils
Daffodils are amongst the easiest bulbs to grow and are immensely rewarding every spring with their bright and cherry flowers that warm the soul in the knowledge that chilly winter is on its way out and spring is on its way.
This year I have chosen the to plant some scented daffodils. Daffodils are long lived and naturalise by multiplying year after year. They are also very easy to grow. Once planted there is nothing left to do: these bulbs can stay right where they and they produce flowers year after year. Grow them close to where you sit in the garden, or along paths to savour their sweet fragrance as you pass by.
Some of the most fragrant daffodils to look out that are available in Australia are:
Baby Moon, Geranium, Pipit, Chinese Sacred Lily, and Replete.
“Fair daffodil, we weep to see
You haste away so soon…”
Tip #4 - Finally
Be Grateful and Happy with what you have.
For Next time - Getting ready for the Winter Solstice
Celebrating the winter solstice
Creating a bathing ritual
Simply abundant things to do in June