Friday, December 18, 2009

Holiday Gifts That Make Scents

Perhaps no other sense so touches the human heart as does can revive and renew cherished memories and create new ones to savor a lifetime. The holiday season is a blessed chance to give soulful living treasures to loved ones who will think of us every time they indulge in the sultry sweetness. And budgets of all sizes, even in these tight times, can accommodate the range of prices.
Fastest and easiest to grow and least expensive are bulbs of the Paperwhite Narcissus, usually about $1 each in bulk bins or mesh bags. Plant one to three of them in a small decorative pot 2/3's filled with bagged mushroom compost, water well, then cover the soil with an inch of glass marbles or rinsed pea gravel, or small seashells from the beach. In less than a month the lush foliage and flower spikes will emerge and fill your lucky recipient’s home with that astonishing musky sweet perfume. I for years have given them less than a week after planting the bulbs, so they can witness the entire growth process (a great gift for children to give OR receive). Other folks like grow them in advance so as to be in bloom when given. Either way, this gift from the heart is easy on the budget while offering priceless joy.
Have a local friend who loves roses but who laments the lack of scent and abundant hassle so often encountered by those who try to grow them in Florida? Have friends up north who miss fragrance too? Wow the northern folks first with the arrival of a gift card from the good folks at The Antique Rose Emporium in Brenham, Texas (1-800-441-0002 or ), then later a husky own root rose growing in a 2 gallon pot in a tall and sturdy shipping box delivered to their front porch at the time best for their climate. They can take out the rose, feed and water it, and in six weeks have the heart stirring aroma of roses like our great grandmothers grew. Your Florida friends will get their rose before the holidays if you order by December 10. All can later transplant their rose gift into a five gallon pot filled with a 50/50 mix of potting soil and mushroom compost, with a dozen crushed eggshells buried deep to supply calcium for years of healthy growth. Lusciously fragrant roses for your Florida friends and family would include ‘Cramoisi Superieur’ (cherry red), ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ (pale flesh pink), "Maggie" (deep magenta), ‘Blush Noisette’ (baby blanket pink), 'Autumn Damask', and my own snow white hybrid ‘Sarasota Spice’. Extremely sweet roses for northern gardens I grew in Denver include ‘Conrad Ferdinand Meyer’ (pale salmon pink), ‘General Jacqueminot’ (deep red), ‘Baronne Prevost’ (rose pink) and ‘Hansa’ (fuchsia). Imagine that....roses for the nose that will grow easily!
Folks with gardening souls living in condos and apartments would love to get potted plants that are easy to grow in small sunny spaces and that boast a whole spectrum of perfumes. The generations-old ‘Logee’s Greenhouse’ (1-888-330-8038 or grows treasures just for the holiday season, shipped to the doors of the lucky recipients. And as they thrive and increase in size, they can be transplanted to larger pots. I’d suggest potently-perfumed gems like Sambac Jasmine, Night Blooming Jessamine, ‘Belmont’ gardenia, Osmanthus ‘Sweet Olive’, Murraya paniculata, Winter Jasmine, dwarf Meyer’s Lemon, or Stephanotis floribunda. While the plants DO arrive small, they should grow quickly for many years of their heady aromas.
Go ahead.....touch someone’s heart and thrill their nose with lovely living gifts that make scents this holiday season.

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