fragrant plants of the offseason, with ken druse

WINTER COLD has simply lastly descended right here, and I’m already lacking the smells of the rising season, from the vary of flowers to simply brushing up in opposition to herbs out by the vegetable backyard.
Ken Druse encourages us to increase our season of scentual gardening. That’s S-C-E-N-T—scentual, as in perfume, and as in the title of his ebook, “The Scentual Garden.” He urges us to incorporate extra-late and extra-early backyard producers and particularly some indoor stars for a full yr of perfume.
Longtime buddy Ken Druse, who gardens in New Jersey, is the creator of 20 backyard books, about the many fragrances the plant world can provide, which is our matter as we speak. (Above, one of Ken’s fragrant favorites, Cestrum parqui.)
Plus: Enter to win a duplicate of “The Scentual Garden” (affiliate hyperlink) by commenting in the field close to the backside of the web page.
Read alongside as you hearken to the Nov. 23, 2022 version of my public-radio present and podcast utilizing the participant under. You can subscribe to all future editions on Apple Podcasts (iTunes) or Spotify or Stitcher (and browse my archive of podcasts right here).
fragrant plants of the offseason, with ken druse
 

 
Margaret Roach: Hi, Ken. I’m prepared for some good fragrances.
Ken Druse: Oh, I’m glad, Margaret, as a result of I do know that you’ve got a, what’s it? Lower unhealthy scent.
Margaret: I do. I’ve a really perceptive little nostril and so scents, if I like them, it’s fantastic, however boy…
Ken: Yeah, I do know.
Margaret: But it’s humorous as a result of you may come inside and it’s dry and it’s scorching. It’s the heating season abruptly. We didn’t have that till this previous week the place I’m, as a result of it was unseasonably heat. But now it’s like, properly, besides if you’re cooking there’s no actual perfume. Do you understand what I imply? Except if you’re cooking.
Ken: Here, there’s, as a result of I’ve acquired a pair of bowls crammed with some uncommon fruits, they usually scent [laughter].
Margaret: Yeah, properly since you’re so intelligent, you at all times bear in mind to have these type of, nearly like potpourri, proper? The outdated days of potpourri and so forth.
Ken: Except these are actually pure.
Margaret: Yeah.
Ken: We develop a tree referred to as Pseudocydonia, which is Chinese quince and it has lovely bark. It’s type of patchy, like camouflage and really late. It nonetheless has fall coloration, it nonetheless has nearly all its leaves and it has sort of, not that fairly fruit, however the perfume in the bowl [above, at Ken’s]. You can scent it from about 30 ft away and fortunately it’s very good, nevertheless it’s very complicated. It’s like pear with apple and guava and citrus and violet all blended up, and it hits you want, you know the way cilantro, you may nearly really feel it as you scent it?
Margaret: It’s not one of my favourite fragrances.
Ken: And we may speak about why that’s, as a result of it’s an entire massive genetic factor. But I simply imply in the means that cilantro, you may nearly really feel it. So it is a perfume you may nearly really feel.
And one thing else that we’ve been speaking about that’s so lovely—I at all times get them for a bowl on the desk in the fall. And then once they begin to go—they usually final a very long time—I transfer them to the place I acquired them in order that they are going to be the place they could develop, though they’re from the Midwest they usually develop right here. The Osage orange, it’s additionally referred to as hedge apple, and it was very talked-about as fence submit materials as a result of the wooden lasts a really very long time. It’s very laborious wooden, they usually used to make furnishings out of it, out of doors furnishings even. But the perfume of these humorous gnarly, they’re nearly like brains they usually’re beautiful chartreuse coloration.
Margaret: Right. Chartreuse brains [laughter].
Ken: Yeah, chartreuse brains the measurement of softballs; they most likely weigh nearly a pound a bit. And they scent like grapefruit and ginger, however actually it’s indescribable. It’s a beautiful, fantastic perfume. [A bowl of them at Ken’s, below.]
Margaret: So that’s Maclura?
Ken: Maclura pomifera.
Margaret: Pomifera. Right.Settings
Ken: And pom- is like apple.
Margaret: And so it’s humorous as a result of the different day I despatched you the hyperlink, I texted you a hyperlink or one thing like that after I noticed that Ned Friedman, the director of the Arnold Arboretum up at Harvard University, he posted on Instagram an image of at a crosswalk the place there’s slightly button the place if you wish to cross, you press the button and there’s slightly metallic field that has the button, and Don’t Walk, Walk, and so forth.
And above that, on the prime lip of the little field with the button, there was one of these Osage oranges sitting, its inexperienced mind as you say, this hedge apple sitting there. And he stated, his caption was one thing like, “Only at the Arnold Arboretum” [laughter]. We know when somebody picked that up and put it there. But it’s humorous as a result of you will note them typically in the roadsides by the place there are some timber, you’ll see an entire crop of them on the floor.
Ken: I labored in Washington briefly a pair of instances and folks hated them as a result of they’re planted as avenue timber, and the fruits used to fall on vehicles and dent the vehicles.
Margaret: To return to that Chinese quince only for a second. So that plant, the place does it develop? What precisely do… Because I believe quince, I believe both an enormous shrub or a tree or one thing. So what does that once more?
Ken: It’s a tree.
Margaret: It’s a tree. O.Okay.
Ken: Chinese quince. And quince—properly, even the fruit quince has a really unusual and fantastic sort of pear-apple scent. And quinces are nonetheless utilized in perfumes, together with Britney Spears’s Fantasy.
Margaret: And now do you develop the Pseudocydonia? Do you develop the Chinese quince tree?
Ken: Yeah.
Margaret: O.Okay. And so it’s not like with the Osage orange, you discover one someplace and also you seize it and use it for its… Enjoy it in its fragrant season in a bowl or no matter. So that is one thing that you simply develop.
Ken: Yup, as a result of it’s a really lovely tree. It has patchwork like a Cornus kousa, you understand? It’s lovely.
Margaret: The bark?
Ken: Mm-hmm. The bark, proper.
Margaret: Oh, fascinating.
Ken: And then it has shiny pink leaves and it’s in the rose household. So I used to be going to say it’s shiny pink leaves like a pear, however we don’t need to speak about pears.
Margaret: That’s bringing us to the… And I assume that you simply’re saying that these fruits are produced in the fall, so that is one thing that you simply may nonetheless be having fun with should you had had a crop they usually’re nonetheless in ok form to have that good perfume.
Ken: Right, most likely nearly to Christmas, nearly.
Margaret: Oh, O.Okay.
Ken: And these will not be edible fruits. I do know all people desires to develop one thing edible, nevertheless it received’t hurt you. I don’t assume the Maclura, I’ve by no means tasted it, nevertheless it most likely is terrible. And the Pseudocydonia, the fruits are as laborious as wooden.
Margaret: O.Okay.
Ken: One yr I attempted to, I had an entire bunch and I attempted to make jelly and I did what you do to make jelly. I believe I acquired about six ounces of jelly [laughter] from the whole-.
Margaret: Nice. That was a very good day in the kitchen.
Ken: … kettle full. They’re actually laborious as wooden.
Margaret: O.Okay. That’s the fall and the place we’re having the final of issues. And I used to be fascinated with, in anticipation of speaking to you, I used to be attempting to assume, properly what was the final fantastic scent that the backyard had? And I like the scent of fall leaves, when it first all comes undone and it’s a dry day. And it’s not that I don’t like that, but-
Ken: Have you ever owned a katsura tree?
Margaret: I don’t have one.
Ken: We have three [laughter] and totally different ones and we had some friends this final weekend and I can’t scent it, however folks stroll by means of the backyard they usually say, “Cotton sweet. It smells like caramel, it smells like caramel.” And it’s the yellowing and fallen leaves of the Cercidiphyllum japonicum. But to not me, for some cause. And I can scent every thing, however I can’t scent this tree. But it’s well-known for its cotton sweet perfume.
Margaret: And it’s a phenomenal tree.
Ken: I interrupted you. Yeah. Oh, properly, we now have two totally different weeping ones [above, at Ken’s, one of the weepers] and the species.
Margaret: No, it’s O.Okay. So what are its different, I imply in phrases of rising it, we’re not simply going to develop it for the cotton sweet scent of the fallen leaves, however what are some of its other-
Ken: Well, should you assume of Cercidiphyllum, the leaves are like a redbud, like Cercis.
Margaret: Like Cercis.
Ken: So it has very fairly leaves, yellow fall coloration. And I’ve two weeping ones. One is ‘Morioka Weeping,’ which fits tall and the branches weep to the floor like a weeping willow. And the different one’s referred to as ‘Pendula.’ And it’s brief, nevertheless it makes new branches and stems the complete season. So it’s type of like Cousin It [laughter], it’s acquired a mop look. But then the leaves turned yellow and after we have been strolling by means of the backyard, the leaves have been on the floor and the friends stated, “Oh, what’s that scent?”
Margaret: Any perfume? Sorry: Any flowers? Any flowers earlier or something?
Ken: Oh, on the tree?
Margaret: On katsura.
Ken: No, nevertheless it’s actually a phenomenal tree, although.
Margaret: And I ought to have stated at the starting, let’s do a giveaway of “The Scentual Garden,” your ebook, which is so beautiful and actually delves into why issues scent and all the ranges of scents in the complete pure world. I imply it’s actually in-depth. So all through the yr and so forth and plenty of lovely photos.
But I used to be fascinated with how in the fall, I do know, developing in the New Year, and typically for me it’s January, typically it’s February right here in the north nation. I’ve the Asian witch hazel hybrids which have one of the first scents of the new backyard. But do the fall witch hazels, the native Hamamelis virginiana, have they got a scent? I’ve by no means truly gone, I’ve them round the edge of my property, native ones simply that have been there.
Ken: They have fall coloration, and sadly, or some of them—it’s bizarre, some of them drop their leaves so you may see the flowers, some of them don’t and the flowers are obscured. I imply people, I don’t know what it’s. And some of the people have a really slight perfume, however some of them don’t. Maybe it’s the time of day, however the perfume is like witch hazel in the bottle. It’s probably not alcohol-y, nevertheless it’s that humorous clear witch hazel astringent scent, however very slight. It’s not like the fantastic ones that we’re going to have in the spring. Like the hybrid x intermedia varieties and in addition the native vernalis. And that’s like spring proper, vernal? Do you’ve got any?
Margaret: I don’t have any vernalis, no.
Ken: I develop one which’s a dwarf referred to as ‘Quasimodo’ [above, at Ken’s]. It got here from Broken Arrow Nursery and it’s solely about 2 ft excessive and a pair of ft vast. And it’s coated with flowers in the spring for a really very long time. And the perfume, if I needed to say what’s it like? I’d say Juicy Fruit gum. It’s a really fruity, candy scent and never too far-off.
Margaret: I’ve a number of of the intermediate, the Chinese-Japanese witch hazel hybrids, that once more bloom simply after the New Year right here. And they’ve a candy perfume. I’ll must examine in January, February and see if it’s Juicy Fruit gum for them, too. But yeah.
And then of course, in order that’s the different finish. We simply closed out the season, and we have been speaking about some of the issues that had scent. And then when it begins, even earlier than the primary occasion of the rising season, that many of us know what we love about, what fragrant plants we love-
Ken: The flowering bulbs, for instance.
Margaret: Right, proper, proper. So actually, then it begins to essentially—heaps of potentialities. But what about the offseason [laughter]? In the north, we’re indoors now quite a bit. So any hope?
Ken: Well we have been speaking about smells we like and smells we don’t like. And you made me assume of paperwhite narcissus, as a result of so many individuals give it its personal room as a result of they hate the scent a lot. And it’s sort of a fragrance, nevertheless it’s simply an excessive amount of.
It’s acquired a chemical compound in it, that’s the cause it’s disagreeable. But I’ve grown a pair of varieties. One’s ‘Inbal,’ perhaps you’ve seen that. And ‘Wintersun’ is one other one. And they’re not the large Israeli ones. And the perfume is way softer, in order that’s attainable. And it’s nice to power them, it’s really easy. They don’t want chilling or something. You simply put them in some water between November and January, after which they bloom.
Margaret: Yeah, that’s fascinating that some are much less intense scented as a result of I undoubtedly don’t like the tremendous. And that chemical, is that the chemical indole? Is that the way you say it? I do not forget that out of your ebook.
Ken: It type of smells like, politely, mothballs, nevertheless it’s truly in excrement. So the cause persons are sensitive-
Margaret: Wait, that’s what meaning? That’s what meaning?
Ken: Indole. I don’t know the way it got-
Margaret: Oh, however that’s what it smells like. It’s just-
Ken: To me it smells, I’m going to let you know what it, it smells like outdated urinal desserts, which you’ve most likely by no means smelled [laughter].
Margaret: No. Being a woman and all, however yeah, that’s proper. Exactly. So yeah, not good. Not good.
Ken: Not good. But it’s truly in some perfumes, they put it into it, as a result of from a distance in very small quantities—it’s in nearly each daffodil. It’s fantastic, it’s candy, however an excessive amount of of a very good factor is an excessive amount of.
But proper now in the sunroom, the citrus have began to bloom, which is early. They normally begin in January, February. And orange blossoms, lemon blossoms, they’re thick. But that’s a beautiful perfume. Do you develop any citrus in any respect?
Margaret: I by no means actually have. And I used to be at a buddy’s and neighbors the different night they usually have two large ones that they’d hauled in from exterior. Then they put them out in the rising season they usually have them of their front room. The pots are nearly hip with the thigh excessive. And I don’t know in the event that they’re 24-inch vast pots; they’re actually massive. And they’re timber—I imply, these are timber. One is a lime and one’s a lemon. And the lemon, particularly, it was coated in fruits. They weren’t yellow but, nevertheless it was coated in fruits. And I used to be like, “What did you do?”
Ken: Yeah, I used to be going to ask you that, “What did they do?”
Margaret: “How did you make this…” They stated that they’ve had a lemon for 5 years. Again, they put it exterior in the backyard in the rising season. But then it is available in, and it’s in a south window. It’s of their front room, so it’s not prefer it’s super-cool or something.
Ken: Or humid.
Margaret: Right. And they stated that they provide it, or perhaps as soon as a month they provide it some fish emulsion, I suppose just about yr spherical, which isn’t a super-hot lot of fertilizer or something. And that, I suppose throughout the rising season, they’d given it perhaps one of these plant spikes or one thing, some kind of fertilizer stick sort of factor that you simply put in the soil that was meant for, rated for citrus. And I don’t know the model, which I may attempt to discover out. And they water judiciously, slightly sparingly in the offseason. But boy, I used to be like, “Wow, that is superb.” [Laughter.]
Ken: Do you bear in mind if it was flowering and fruiting at the identical time?
Margaret: It was not fruiting, excuse me, flowering proper now. But I’ve been there the place, in different years the place there was this lovely scent in the front room in addition to fruit nonetheless hanging. Yes.
Ken: Well, that lemon was most likely Meyer lemon-
Margaret: I believe it’s a Meyer. Yes. Yes.
Ken: Which is, I suppose it’s a hybrid of a [mandarin] orange and a lemon. And if you must attempt to develop a citrus, that’s the one to develop. It’s actually the most forgiving and the best to develop to get fruit. And should you’ve acquired a south window, oh boy. And if it’s cool in the winter, oh boy. And should you can summer season it outdoor, it’s attainable to have your personal fruit. And the fruit scent fantastic, too.
Margaret: Oh, sure.
Ken: I develop one other one. Have you ever seen Buddha’s hand [above, at Ken’s]?
Margaret: Yeah. Well, solely that you simply’ve proven me, however yeah.
Ken: At Wave Hill they’ve fantastic ones. The fruits appear to be—they’re massive they usually appear to be octopuses as a result of they’ve all these tentacles, and there’s no moist fruit to eat. It’s all pith inside, however that’s one other one. You can reduce that and put it in a bowl and for a month, you’ll have a phenomenal, lovely perfume, which is nice perfume-orangey. But it’s nice.
Margaret: So perhaps strive citrus, huh? I would do that, I would do this and see what occurs. Because there’s simply one thing so, I don’t know. It’s like having not simply perfume, however a harvest in the winter. Do you understand what I imply?
Ken: Yeah, of course.
Margaret: It a lot completes the yr, which is nice.
Ken: What are they going to do with all these lemons?
Margaret: They’re very fascinating. They cook dinner quite a bit. And one of the two, he makes sorbets and stuff. They make ice cream, quite a bit of baking, jams, jellies, no matter. And truly we had some lime sorbet after our supper [laughter]. So I suppose if life offers you lemons, make sorbet, proper? Is that the deal?
Ken: [Laughter.] Absolutely. I’m so glad to listen to that they used them because-
Margaret: Yeah, completely. Yeah, they love them, yeah. So what type of different home plants that you’d say we may give a strive if we wish some indoor perfume?
Ken: Well, I’ve a houseplant that’s associated to one thing you and I each skilled [laughter]. It’s a sort of Cestrum.
Margaret: Uh-oh, I do know what you’re going to say.
Ken: But Cestrum parqui [photo, top of page] doesn’t scent like Cestrum nocturnum. It’s a a lot lighter scent. But they’re actually nice, and flowers are yellow. And the wonderful thing about it, it’s by no means out of bloom. This factor blooms at all times. It’s at all times in bloom and it solely smells at evening, so it’s in the sunroom. I don’t scent it until I am going and discover it. And as I stated, I truly assume that the Cestrum nocturnum scent is, properly, it’s extra perfumy and it’s definitely sturdy. And we guess that because it was associated to peppers and Solanum plants, is that proper? Solanaceae-
Margaret: Yeah.
Ken: …plants in the pepper household that perhaps the molecules in the air may very well be harmful to somebody who’s delicate.
Margaret: Well, since you and I, simply so folks know why you’re saying I’m delicate to it’s as a result of 1,000,000 years in the past we have been at a cocktail party. It was truly out on a terrace, however the plant was proper near the desk.
Ken: A giant plant with heaps of-
Margaret: And as the night got here on, the night-blooming jasmine, Cestrum nocturnum did its factor and I nearly did my factor for good [laughter].
Ken: Yep.
Margaret: That was nearly the finish of Margaret.
Ken: We needed to escape.
Margaret: I at all times questioned about, it is a whole apart, however some of the lilies that folks, together with floral preparations and so forth on a dinner desk, some of them are simply so perfumy to me, some of them.
Ken: And you may’t style the meals.
Margaret: No, precisely. And that’s what, it spoils it too. Even if it doesn’t make you sick, it makes me sort of wheezy. But anyway, so is that this Cestrum parqui?
Ken: P-A-Q-U-I-I. [Update: It’s parqui, Ken realized after the taping.]
Margaret: Cestrum parqui. We’ll must search for that. I’m wondering if locations like Logee’s have them. I’ll search for a supply for it [Plant Delights offers it].
So what about true jasmines? Because that’s not a real jasmine, though the widespread title is jasmine, proper?
Ken: Right. Well, I very very similar to and in addition can develop Jasminum sambac [above, at Ken’s] and the one that everyone has is ‘Maid of Orleans.’ There’s heaps of totally different alternatives and double ones. I can’t develop any of the different ones. But Jasminum sambac ‘Maid of Orleans,’ little flowers and the perfume is jasmine, nevertheless it’s not that deep lily-like perfume of some of the jasmines. It’s a really heat, excessive perfume. And for me, it by no means has greater than—properly it might need 10 flowers, they usually’re tiny. They’re smaller than dimes most likely. But I really like that scent.
Margaret: Is it like a viney factor or what’s-
Ken: No, it’s shrubby.
Margaret: Shrubby, and so does it get very massive? I’m attempting to visualise how-
Ken: Well it doesn’t get massive for me. And it’s not a fairly plant. It has O.Okay. inexperienced leaves, however I don’t have a south window like some folks, so every thing right here is sort of leggy, and a department goes a technique and a department goes one other means. And I’m after flowers, so I simply need to maintain all these flowering elements going. And it doesn’t bloom year-round, it blooms principally in the spring and summer season. But that’s a very nice perfume. I used to develop Jasminum, I believe it was grandiflorum, which is the one which’s in Chanel No. 5. Oh. And that’s a vine. Vine-
Margaret: And that’s why I requested, as a result of in my head I had jasmine is a vine and visualizing vine. So I will need to have…
Ken: And the flowers are larger they usually’re like—I used to be going to say spiders. Well, they’re stars they usually have heaps of little factors and really totally different wanting flower.
Margaret: So I’ve to simply know, can I probably develop a gardenia [laughter], as a result of… Can I do this? Have you ever? Do you succeed with them?
Ken: I believe you would. Can you develop rosemary?
Margaret: You imply indoors in the winter? Yeah, I’ve one cool sort of a mudroom with good home windows. Yeah.
Ken: I believe that’s the place the gardenia [above, at Ken’s] would make it. The solely gardenias that I’ve seen exterior of greenhouses in houses have been proper by the entrance door the place the draft is, which isn’t so good, however in very cool locations for the winter. And then the watering is like, oh my God, an excessive amount of, or too little too late. You know the way that’s, if it dries it dies. But additionally if it’s overwatered, it rots. So you must actually watch out.
Probably should you had a cool place, you would ignore it a bit. Probably. It’s most likely an excessive amount of care is what will get them. And now there’s quite a bit of totally different ones. There’s even “hardy ones” to love Georgia, a number of totally different sorts. They say Zone 7, however you understand they are saying stuff. They.
Margaret: Yeah. Yeah.
Ken: People telling them-
Margaret: The authorities.
Ken: … We’re not in Zone 7, however I do know that there are some which can be hardier now. But you may develop them. I don’t know should you’d need to develop them.
Margaret: Yeah, give it a strive.
Ken: It’s sturdy.
Margaret: Oh, O.Okay. It is likely to be an excessive amount of for me. No, it’s simply, it’s that sort of a factor that we’ve all heard about them, and seen them, and it’s aspirational or no matter because-
Ken: The ones you’ll develop as a houseplant or in a greenhouse should you weren’t in manufacturing, the flowers are like an inch and a half. They’re not like these gigantic ones which you can typically get at a florist which can be 3-1/2 inches throughout after which they flip yellow and you may float them in a bowl. It’s a really good present, I’d say, birthday present for somebody. One flower.
Margaret: Well, I’m going to attempt for a yr of scent, because of Ken Druse, creator of “The Scentual Garden.” Thanks, Ken.
(All photographs by Ken Druse.)

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