No, I don’t think it’s one of these…
What I think has the best scent in the world is something nothing like as showy as a rose. And if you happen to read on, bear with me, because it’s not a cow either.
When I first moved to Gippsland from Melbourne I lived in an old farmhouse on the edge of a dairy farm.
I remember a few shocks that first night in the farmhouse. One was the fact that when you turned out the lights it was dark. A silent blanket of velvety darkness without the noise of streetlights or the noise of…noise.
The other shock was hearing the unnerving sounds that cows make in the still of night. I had grown up (like many people in Melbourne who learnt about farm animals as a toddler from Play School) with the expectation that cows said ‘Moo’. It was quite a revelation to discover that they don’t. Cows can make some downright creepy noises at 3am.
Apart from those learning experiences, one of my strongest memories of living in that little house is the scent of the Lemon Verbena (Aloysia citriodora) growing by the front door. It was one of the biggest Lemon Verbenas I’ve ever seen and on warm days its delicious scent greeted me as I arrived home.
A couple of years ago I finally planted one in my own garden ( a town garden a little further away from the cows, but still in Gippsland) and really wonder what took me so long. So far it’s still quite small and nothing much to look at, but I love it to bits just the same.
I think Lemon Verbena has one of the most delicious scents in the world. I really wish I could crush up some leaves for you so you could enjoy it too. It has a much subtler and ‘cleaner’ scent than Lemon Balm and is nowhere near so sharp as the tang of a real lemon.
For those who might not know it, the Lemon Verbena plant is not very showy. You wouldn’t buy it for its looks. It has tiny flowers and narrow lime green leaves that have a rough texture. It can also and get scraggly, and if you have a cat that is anything like my dear Possum, it can be completely flattened out from being sat upon when young.
A couple of weeks ago a found a very similar plant labelled as Lime Verbena (Aloysia triphylla) while wandering through a nursery. I don’t like the smell half as much as I like the lemon scented variety, as I find the lime version a little more ‘perfumy’ and sappy. But it certainly has a limey note and was pleasant enough for me to want to have it for my garden.
But Lemon Verbena still has my heart. And my nose.
Oh, and before I forget – they are from South America and like a warm well drained spot in the garden. They cope with light frosts.
I’m sure it has all been done before, but I would love to know – which plant or flower do you think has the best scent? For an added challenge, can you describe it?