The Scent of Summer by Bryanna Sweeney

13 May 2020

‘The Scent of Summer’

By Bryanna Sweeney


“Each day has a colour, a smell.”

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, The Mistress of Spices


Early summer is fast becoming one of my favourite times of the year. The air is sweetened with the alluring scents of blossoming trees and flowers blooming in our gardens, parks and woodlands. Apart from the odd day of rain here and there, the weather has been glorious and coming into May, many people are outside to relieve the pressures of the lockdown, walking and running along paths that align our roads and rivers. Now that we can move beyond the two-kilometre zone, there will be much more to savour as the summer palette of explosive colours. Your nostrils are likely to be bombarded with sweet fragrances, such as the distinct tropical coconut of the prickly yellow gorse and the tingly scent of chalky purple and white lilacs. Keep an eye out for the blousey pink and burgundy peonies scenting the air and the soft and delicate freesia rearing their right-angled heads in several shades of pastels. Don’t forget the pansies poking their yellow and blue petals out of stone walls and garden beds. 


On my walks, I can’t help but stop and admire the garden with the neatly pruned red and yellow roses that are beginning to bud. Sometimes I pluck a sprig of apple blossom from a tree to tuck in my shirt pocket. When I reach the Pink House, a blush pink magnolia tree reaches over the fence invitingly and I inhale its sweet scent while also hoping the owners aren't watching through their windows suspiciously at this person with their head in the magnolia tree. Further down the path, there are pink and white Cherry Blossoms whose delicate petals stream like confetti across the pavement. A slight breeze changes the fragrance to something I can’t put my nose on. While I can’t identify all of them, I find this is a pleasing exercise to do while ambling around the outskirts of town. I’m grateful to the gardeners who work tirelessly on their gardens, big and small, for they chose to enter a never-ending battle with nature for all to enjoy and take pleasure from. 


It's then that I appreciate nature for its resilience, observing where huge horse chestnuts had grown disorderly and were cut for driver’s safety. However, new shoots grow on the severed stumps of its trunk in defiance of man’s will. Places that I've walked throughout the year are wilder and overgrown. The cracks in the path have grown longer. Something is pushing up through the concrete. Ivy tendrils coiling a nearby tree are ready to cross the road. The trees further down offer some shade from the sun and are flush with new leaves that whisper when it’s windy. 


I'm lucky to have a small modest garden that provides me with enough space to care for my few flowering plants which I've nurtured over several years. Of the plants that possess a fragrance is a peppermint and catnip plant whose cooling scent tingles the nose hairs; the purple French lavender is warm and calming, and; while it’s not in full bloom yet, my favourite plant is the David Austen pale-pink garden rose whose scent is strong and perfumed and it grows taller against the house wall every year, attracting visitors like the pervasive greenfly to the humble bumblebee. Watch out for bees or sleeping bugs if you are going to take a sniff of any flower. While inhaling a flowerhead, I’ve found many insects residing cosily between its petals.


In this new era of social distancing, remember the power of scent and its positive effect. You can take these summer scents inside to cheer up any empty window ledge or coffee table. Pull out your secateurs and an old vase or a bean tin and treat yourself or a friend to a scented plant or a wildflower bouquet of the latest blooms. A Room In Bloom Floral Designs will have the all latest seasonal flowers and best advice for caring for your plants and blossoms. Don’t forget to sneak a smell of those garden roses. That's the best part. 

The Scent of Summer by Bryanna Sweeney