Scented shrubs for summer

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In early summer there are many flowering shrubs that fill the garden with attractive blossom and one of my favourites is philadelphus, or ‘mock orange blossom’ as it is also known. There are several popular philadelphus that we grow in our gardens but they originate from various parts of the world such as the Himalayas, China, USA, Eastern Europe and Asia. As a group of shrubs they all have two things in common, white flowers and a lovely fragrance that resembles the scent of citrus blossom and hence its common name. Although the flowers are all white, they vary considerably in shape and size with some having small single flowers, some with dark markings in the centre of the petals and others with large double flowers. The size of the shrub also varies from a compact shrub of P. ‘Manteau d’Hermine’ that grows to only 90cm tall to the towering P. ‘Virginal’ that reaches 3metres plus. The latter is one that used to be commonly sold and people would plant it in their garden only to find that after a few years it would grow into a very large shrub. Heavy pruning would often follow in an attempt to control it, but this would result in even more growth and no flowers. Philadelphus ‘Virginal’ is a lovely shrub with scented, double white flowers, but to grow and flower naturally it needs a lot of growing space. For smaller gardens P. ‘Mont Blanc’, P. ‘Silver Showers’ or P. ‘Sybille’ are much better as they only grow to around 1.2 – 1.5m. Of all the different types my favourite is one called P. microphyllus which is also fairly compact and has small single white, cross shaped flowers and the most amazing scent. I have one planted by our drive way and as soon as you step out of the back door you can smell it. On a warm summer’s evening the scent intensifies and drifts around the garden. If you want flowers in late June and July and fragrance, philadelphus is just what you are looking for.

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