The Chagrin Valley Herb Society Library Garden at the Bainbridge Library is just beautiful at this time of the year. The color in the tea house garden is just inspiring. The potpourri garden is well worth your attention. Come to see the gentle colors, but stay to enjoy the scents in each section of our garden.
The two high raised beds house our fragrant touch and sniff herbs. Touch the plant then smell your hand. I guarantee some wonderful surprises. It has been said, “plants leave their fragrance on the hand that nurtures them.”
Plants carry scented oil for one of two reasons. Essential oil either protects the plant against drought or draws pollinators. Plants that grow in areas that are hot and dry most of the year protect themselves from water loss. They do this by producing essential oils which evaporate more slowly than water. These oils are wonderfully fragrant. The fragrance is found in the leaves and stems of the plant as well as in the flowers. Most of the herbs have originated in the Mediterranean climate which is characteristically hot and dry.
Flowers with strong colors are not often highly perfumed. The bright red and oranges attract bird pollinators. Fragrant flowers are usually pastel colored. These attract moths, butterflies, beetles, flies and of course the bees.
Without the pollinators we would not have the beautiful flowers and vegetables we enjoy so much.
Gardens were once purely functional. A patch of ground would mean a place to grow needed food. Many gardens today tell a different story. Collecting plants and enjoying their beauty and fragrance can bring great satisfaction.
Although many plants in this garden are annuals, replanted every year, many are perennial living for many years. Lavender, for instance, over-winters well. One can go out to the garden in mid-February, placing a hand beneath the snow, touching the lavender. When the hand is brought to the nose, all of a sudden it is springtime and stress is momentarily history.
Scent triggers memory. When you get a whiff of lilac, do you find yourself taken back to your grandmother’s garden? Bring a plant to your own garden which evokes a childhood memory and experience very positive emotions. Keeping one’s memory active through scent is a healthy connection for the brain!
Aromatics have had a long and interesting history. They have moved from a role in ancient rituals to medicine, perfume and aromatherapy. Explore and enjoy fragrance and all it can offer.

Kathy Catani

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