Spring in Bloom

As we face the prospect of a long, chilly winter, the gardeners among us are busy planting their bulbs, which will sprout next year with the first signs of spring. Today, in the age of aromatherapy and the celebration of scents, gardeners are choosing fragrance over color in selecting their bulbs.

According to Sally Ferguson, director of the Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center, gardeners are clamoring for fragrant flowers in the same way they’re begging for juicy tomatoes. “Who wants pithy five-pound tomatoes or the world’s biggest, floppiest flower?” she says. “Gardeners want ‘the real thing’ – they want tomatoes that taste like tomatoes and flowers that offer the kind of magical balance of color, form and fragrance Mother Nature intended.”

Ferguson offers this list of “best bet” fragrant spring-blooming bulb flowers to look for and plant this fall:

  • Hyacinth “Anna Marie” – A bright pink flower that smells sweet, fruity and refreshing
  • Hyacinth “Blue Jacket” – A delicious deep blue with shades of purple, it has a strong fragrance described as heady and exotic by some, and as fresh, cool and outdoorsy by others
  • Narcissus “Carlton” – This ultimate large-cupped yellow daffodil has a scent described variously as fresh and jasmine-tinged or vanilla-y
  • Tulipa “Angelique” – A luscious blush-pink peony-flowered look with a delicate fragrance reminiscent of a rose
  • Tulipa “Prinses Irene” – Orange flushed with purple flames, this bloom has a subtle perfume described as slightly honey-lemon to musk

Since many tulips lose their fragrance when cut, forcing bulbs in pots is the way to bring the scents of spring indoors – whether forced over winter at home, or bought in spring as potted plants.

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