Bouquets That Make "Scents"
Enjoying the Fragrances of Summer
Using your garden flowers to create indoor arrangements is one of summer’s delights—it’s a simple pleasure that most gardeners do without even thinking.
When creating a scented bouquet, it’s important to follow one very important guideline: simplicity is your best friend. Accordingly, use one scent at a time, or groups of similar fragrances. Apple blossoms combined with lavender, for example, might look attractive, but the delicate apple aroma will be completely overwhelmed by lavender’s powerful fragrance. Sweet peas and lilies would have the same problem.
For best results, we recommend using one type of flower as the focus of your aromatic bouquet and visually complementing it with non-scented partners. For example, combine lilacs with a bit of greenery such as hosta leaves, ostrich ferns, or any deciduous tree leaves such as dogwood, bergenia or beargrass, and small filler flowers. Alternatively, partner a single, very strong-smelling flower like an Oriental lily with mountain ash berries, rhubarb leaves, Swiss chard (especially the colourful, neon Bright Lights variety) or any deciduous or perennial foliage with appealing texture and colour.
Hints for Enduring Arrangements
• Clean your vase with bleach, soap and very hot water before adding any water or flowers. This will kill any bacteria, which if left alive can significantly shorten the life of your cutflowers. Putting a vase in the dishwasher also works very well.
• Use a clean, sharp knife to harvest your garden flowers. You may want to try cutting at the late-bud stage, just before the flowers open. This will lengthen your enjoyment, as you can watch the flowers open in the bouquet. Of course, this also means that you’ll have to sacrifice the pleasure of seeing them flower in the garden; the choice is yours.
• Fill your vase with lukewarm water. Just before putting the flowers in the vase, re-cut the stems again with a sharp, sterile knife, as the cut ends rapidly close after cutting. This seal prevents cutflowers from drawing water up the stem, hence the need to re-cut.
• Place the flowers in the vase. Add a floral preservative to further extend the life of your bouquets. Floral preservatives contain simple sugar solutions that are food for the flowers, plus chemicals to inhibit the growth of fungi and bacteria, and pH adjusters that lower the pH of your vase water to the ideal, disease-inhibiting range of 3–4. Add floral preservative each time you add water to your arrangement.
For your scented bouquet, turn to these delightfully fragranced flowers, which are ready to pick in the summer, or in the spring where indicated. (Keep in mind that fragrance is subjective; what we call lightly scented, for example, may seem strong to sensitive noses. Also, some flowers may fall into more than one category.)
Strongly Scented • Hyacinth (spring), Narcissus (spring), Lilies, Roses, Lavender, Rosemary, Eucalyptus
Lightly Scented • Forsythia (spring), Muscari (Grape Hyacinth) (spring), Sweet peas, Peonies, Roses, Lilac, Apple blossoms, Cherry blossoms, Plum blossoms, Scilla
Sweet Fragrances • Double-flowering tulips (spring), Dianthus, Gypsophila (Baby’s Breath), Cimicifuga (snakeroot), Freesia, Peonies, Roses, Apple blossoms, Cherry blossoms, Plum blossoms, Mayday, Wolf willow, Mock orange
Spicy Fragrances • Freesia, Stocks, Roses, Lavender, Rosemary, Eucalyptus, Bay