A really fun and easy way to grow a fragrant garden is to take apart the components of a delicious perfume and grow the plants yourself. Clemmie Fraser shows us how. Artwork by Michalis Christodoulou.
Perfumer H Sweet Pea perfume is an exotic mix of plants to make your garden smell like a small slice of heaven.
You will need
Sweet pea stems, violet leaves, black currant powder, mimosa buds, the ‘transparent heart of a rose’, musk and Moroccan orange blossom.
Find yourself a couple of pots and fill with some general-purpose compost. (Non-peat based to be ecologically sound in your planting). Into the first, plunge about five bamboo canes and tie at the top with some garden twine to make a teepee shape (preferably the chic brown variety, rather than the bog standard green variety).
Tie the twine in intervals around your teepee to make a sort of ladder. At the base of these canes make a finger depth hole and pop a sweet pea seed into each and water in. Later your sweet peas will clamber ‘artfully’ over the twine with satisfactory effect. Less satisfactory if your twine is green. Obvs. Unfortunately, the recipe only calls for the ‘green stems’ of the sweet peas. But never mind.
In your second pot plant your violets and water in. The pots should be situated in a sheltered, sunny spot. You will find violets in your local garden centre, or even supermarket while you are buying the gin – which, it transpires, is an important part of this project.
If you do not have a one already, sell your current abode and buy one with a large, south facing garden. At the far end of this, using the instructions on the pack, build a small fruit cage, complete with frames for the fruit to lean on. www.littlefieldsfarm.com have a wide selection that can be delivered straight to your door. Using a small trowel, dig in a couple of black currant plants. These will provide the musk and vanilla accents required.
In another part of your new garden, dig a large hole, this time using a shovel, and plant your mimosa tree (Acacia dealbata) being very careful not to bury the graft line. This is a small bulge at the base of the plant. If necessary, make a little pen mark just below it and make sure that it is visible when you finish. New trees often require staking and fencing to protect from wind and small mammals. So, use a wooden mallet. The mimosa will be the first into flower in your garden in early spring, bringing welcome bursts of yellow, frothy flowers. If you and it have survived the mallet situation.
On the sunniest wall of your new house, place a freshly painted trellis (preferably with a muted green from Farrow and Ball) and fasten to the wall using a power tool. Beneath this, either in a large pot, or small flowerbed, plant your rose which will eventually climb into the trellis, with a fertile explosion of flowers. Keep deadheading to continue the display into the autumn. Given this is an important part of your perfumed garden, choose something highly scented like Rosa ‘Golden Dawn’ which is palest yellow with pinky edges to the petals. Lovely.
The final two components of your scented garden are the most exotic. You will require both a house in the Caribbean to grow your Hibiscus flowers (for their musky ambrette seeds) and a riad in Morocco to provide the necessary very fragrant blossom from the fabled Moroccan orange trees. At a push, a heated greenhouse in another corner of your new garden will suffice.
Failing all of this, buy the perfume and go and get a manicure.