Confederate Jasmine

Confederate Jasmine

Although last year I wrote a series called May Muguet Marathon, in truth the lilies of the valley bloomed here in late March/early April. What blooms here in May is Confederate jasmine and in my garden, lots of it. I have a brick wall and more than one fence that are completely covered in it. It is an evergreen vine with medium-sized, glossy, dark green leaves that make a perfect cover for such structures. Its major advantage over other such plants is its flower. Every spring, the vines are covered in hundreds of delicate, small white flowers with a starry appearance and powerful fragrance.

Close up of white Confederate jasmine flower

Confederate jasmine; trachelospermum jasminoides

I was prompted to write here about it because another member of a Facebook fragrance group posted a photo of a plant he had seen and asked what it was, as it smells so heavenly. It really does. A single plant can scent an entire garden; dozens of plants, as I have in my garden, may be scenting the whole block!

When I plant in my already over-crowded garden, I try to use plants that serve multiple purposes, and Confederate jasmine is a prime example. As I love fragrant plants, fragrance is high on my list of the qualities I seek. As my property is less than one acre, plants like vines that will grow vertically and not take up much precious ground space are desirable. It is shaded by a high canopy of tall oak trees, so I seek out plants that tolerate partial shade and shade. I also have a brick wall all along one side of our lot and chain link fence around the rest (erected by a previous owner and now, thankfully, mostly unseen due to the same owner’s clever screen plantings).

The brick wall was built several years ago by a neighbor and required something to cover its then-naked surface, which extended the whole length of our garden. Enter Confederate jasmine! We installed vertical iron trellises on the brick pillars that rose about every ten feet along the wall, planted the jasmine, and within a few years, the whole wall was almost completely covered with pretty evergreen leaves, as the vines fling themselves with abandon into the space between the trellises. The bonus, of course, is that at this time of year, the fragrance is remarkable and the wall is covered with white flowers, as in these images from the blog Old City South.

Confederate jasmine vines on wall and arbor, from Old City South blog

Confederate jasmine; photos from Old City South blog

What does it smell like? It is sweet, with a hint of lemon. It attracts and nourishes bees, another excellent quality given severe declines in North American bee populations. It is intense and it wafts for long distances, but I have never found it overpowering or unpleasant. It is similar to the scent of true jasmine but has less of a “hot-house” aura. Hard to describe precisely, but lovely.

Fragrance Friday: Moss

Fragrance Friday: Moss

Moss is a fragrance by a new(ish) company called Commodity Goods, which got started with a Kickstarter campaign and has an active social media presence: Commodity Goods on Facebook. The Moss I’ve tried, thanks to a sample, is listed as a men’s fragrance but there is also a women’s Moss with the identical notes, so I think they are the same fragrance packaged differently for men and women. According to Fragrantica.com, Moss was launched in 2013. Top notes are petitgrain, bergamot and elemi; middle notes are eucalyptus, orange blossom and oakmoss; base notes are cashmere wood, amber, cedar and white musk.

Petitgrain is a note based on the leaves of orange trees. The orange theme continues in the heart notes, with orange blossom. This is a green, fresh fragrance with just a touch of floral sweetness; it is mostly green and herbal, but very light and warmed by the base notes. I’m really loving it a lot. As you know if you’ve read my blog about gardening, Old Herbaceous, I like moss. I like moss in gardens. I like moss gardening. Moss is quiet. Moss is peaceful. Moss is persistent. Moss is resilient. Moss is green and fresh. Moss is.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about persistence and resilience. I am by nature quiet and peaceful. I need to cultivate my own persistence and resilience. I need to regenerate after a drought the way moss does. A very interesting blogger named Laura Bancroft had some interesting comments on Commodity Goods: Piper Winston. It sounds to me as if the company is as interesting as its fragrances.

Even more interesting is that Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love has written another book that came out last year, The Signature of All Things. Set in the nineteenth century, its heroine is a self-taught botanist with a passion for moss. In fact, she devotes herself to the study of moss for a few decades. Now that is persistence. I learned about this book from a lovely moss gardening website, MossAndStoneGardens.com. I may have to get a copy, spray myself with Moss, and lose myself.

The Signature of All Things

Why I Write

Writing 101 asks, why do you write? I am quite introverted but verbal almost to a fault, with many thoughts and words jostling for my attention and linking to each other; writing them down takes them out of my head and gives me a creative outlet. My daily work requires that I interact frequently with people, often in one-on-one meetings or conversations. I enjoy other people, and I am not shy, but my introverted nature means that these interactions do drain me of energy; solitude restores me and allows me to capture my thoughts in writing. I have an inquiring, INTJ mind and thousands of books. Many things make me happy. I like sharing them and reading about what brings joy or feeling to others.

Mindfulness is something I am working to cultivate in my life. There are many competing claims on my time and attention: family, work, etc. As my children are now in their teens, I am working to carve out some time for peaceful reflection and creativity in my life, in spite of a demanding, sometimes pressured job. Blogging is one way for me to do that, in a different format than the other kinds of writing I am also exploring. This blog also helps me cultivate positive thoughts through practices like “What Went Well Wednesdays”, when I write down three things that went well that week.

I also blog about gardens, gardening, garden books, art in gardens and garden photography at Old Herbaceous.