Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Winter Gardener

The Fragrant Year by Helen Van Pelt Wilson and Leonie Bell

Some books give you that warm, fuzzy feeling. This is one of them.

Published in 1967 as collaboration between internationally known writer, lecturer and gardener Helen Van Pelt Wilson and expert plant illustrator Leonie Bell, The Fragrant Year is full of information for a scented garden.

The romantic style created a pause from holiday stress for me. Wilson writes with a love of plants evident in her poetic pen.

Chapter 15, “Autumn Aromas”, begins –

“Summer slips so gently into autumn, and the warm lush scents of plants in full leaf change so imperceptibly to the crisp dry smell of those soon to fall, that until the one low branch on the great sugar maple above the rock ledge turns significantly to gold we are hardly aware of the slow passing of another year.”

After reading through the somewhat long list of plant fragrance classifications, I suspect my unsophisticated nose would not be able to make the distinctions. I’ll have to take the authors’ word on the nuances of fragrance.

The information is precise. The authors lived and gardened in zone 6. Varieties of plants sorted by season and listed by botanical name fill the book.

The longest chapter “Just Roses” contains rose history as well as a discussion of varieties, their growth habits and scent.

In the section “The Bourbons":
“By the end of the nineteenth century, ’Mme. Isaac Pereire’ had become a favorite. Considered one of the most fragrant of all roses it provided pounds of petals for the potpourris then so popular. . . . Bushes grow to 6 feet and some canes reach higher; bending them down discourages bloom.”

(Photo: In my garden - Bourbon Rose, Madame Isaac Pereire, 1881)

The book provides transportation to an earlier time. Whether read from beginning to end, taken in small doses or browsed by areas of interest, it is a lovely guide to building a scented garden.


Anonymous said...

Wondering if anyone has tried the Aqua Globes from Harriet Carter?

Marie said...

I have not used Aqua Globes.

I've used Drip-it Pro waterer (see August 9, 2008 post) with moderate success.

Chandramouli S said...

Rose! No matter how ubiquitous it is, people can never grow tired of it! They'd always find a space in every gardener's world.

Marie said...

I agree. A beautiful rose is compelling sight.

Morning Glories in Round Rock said...

I hope I can find this book! It is wonderful to hear what other people are reading--and "The Fragrant Year" sounds like a must read. I love the talent that some people have for putting together words and phrases that give you a mental picture and feeling better than any movie or television show ever could!

Marie said...


I got it through Sorry I don't know which seller I used. It is a lovely book. The illustrations are beautifully drawn.