The Fragrance of Darkness


What is fragrant here at night is the subtropical Brugmansia.  Then add in the Orange trees when they bloom all too briefly, and oddly, the rose 'Sombreuil', which smells like nothing at all during the daylight hours in this garden.   Those are the fragrances of our darkness.

Brugmansia.   The two best things about it are the fragrance drifting up at sundown,  and  the way the light glows through the flowers in the morning.  They look like a cross between an incandescent lightbulb and  a trumpet:


The two worst things are the continual torrent of litter the thing showers 365 days a year, and  the root system, which has wandered far and wide in my garden, though I can't blame it, because I don't water it much at all it is forced to go looking for a drink on its own.   My Brug was a sucker a  few years ago.  My Mom got it for me and gave it to me with great dismay--it was completely wilted and looked like dead lettuce.  It took only water to revive it--they are tough survivors of everything but cold.  I don't know the variety--the flowers open cream tinted a slight apricot and quickly fade to white.  It's now a 12 or 14 foot (4 meter) multi-trunked tree, larger than in this photo taken a couple or three years ago:


Though we've gotten a light frost or two, it's been fine.  If I remember to water it, it rewards me almost immediately with a great burst of new foliage and flowers, followed a few days later by a great torrent of wilted leaf and dead flower litter.  It sheds like a big slobbering dog.  In the garden like everywhere else, you must pay for your pleasures.   The fragrance is rich and distinctive, almost but never quite cloying or overwhelming, and therefore quite a treat on a summer evening, or a spring, fall, or even winter one as well, because it will bloom if it is warm enough, winter or not. 


The only rose in this garden that has any fragrance at night is 'Sombreuil', the  old mystery not-a-tea rose, the origins of which no one is really all that sure about.  When I go out the front door after dark, and only after dark, the air is filled with 'Sombreuil', a scent like sun-dried cotton sheets, pure and sweetly fresh.   In the morning  it has returned to its near scentless state.  Its evening extravagance is our little secret.   During the day, it merely looks good. 


Brugmansia and Datura: Angel's Trumpets and Thorn ApplesClimbing Roses


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