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The mock orange
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I have just come back from a fine couple of days at Bloom in Dublin – a great show that happens in the middle of Phoenix Park. It’s well worth planning a trip to Ireland next year in order to coincide with the show.
Anyway, I got back late last evening and when I got out of the car the first thing I noticed was scent. A wild romantic perfume floating through the heavy warm air. Although the planting in my garden is predominantly herbaceous, I will always have room for the begetter of that fabulous scent: the philadelphus, or mock orange.
There are a number of different varieties, all deciduous with white flowers and unremarkable foliage. In the first garden I had that actually possessed any soil (the first two were just concrete yards) I planted Philadelphus ‘Virginal’, which is the biggest variety with, I think, the punchiest smell. It was far too big for the garden and I had to hack it about a bit – eventually I formed it into a sort of one sided arch through which you had to walk to get to the rest of the garden. It is very easy to grow and there is another one planted just outside my office, so if I open the window and inhale … aaaaaahhh!
I have sneaked a couple of other varieties. One is Philadelphus ‘Belle Etoile’, which is about 1.6m high and is planted by the washing line. The open flowers have a beautiful jam coloured splodge in their centres. The other, Philadelphus ‘Manteau d’Hermine’, is only about a metre or so tall, with less open – but still scented – flowers.
Others not to be sneezed at (unless you have hay fever, in which case you might not have much choice):
Philadelphus coronarius: a large variety that also comes with golden leaves that lighten up a bit of partial shade (not deep shade or it will never flower).
Philadelphus ‘Silver Showers’, a shorter variety, with almost starry shaped flowers.
Philadelphus tomentosus, another large one, but it will take more shade than many.
If they get a bit unruly then prune them all directly after flowering.
June smells like philadelphus.
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