Scent of winter
Kiran Narain

Fragrance in a garden is an added attraction to the colour and form of flowers. Basking in the winter sun, what more can an avid gardener wish for than enjoying the bonus of scent from the riot of colour that the winter annuals offer.

Here is a list of a few scented winter annuals that will enhance the ambience of your garden.

Alyssum, or more popularly known as sweet alyssum due to its honey-scented flowers, is a very accommodating winter annual. It is invaluable for edging beds, rockeries and as a ground cover. It comes in white, lilac and purplish colours.

Carnations—the old clove-scented varieties are a must in any garden where fragrance is a prime consideration. The young plants are set out onefoot apart each way and would do very well in a deeply dug soil which is enriched with leaf-mould and bone meal. Lime is an important compound to be mixed in the soil per 100 gm to a square metre or so. They like full sun and a well-drained soil.

Dianthus heddewgii and pinks come from the same group of plants as carnations and can be given the same soil. They are smaller and with single flowers coming in white, pink, reds and violets or in combination of the colours. These have a good fragrance too.

Petunias have innumerable uses for hanging baskets, window boxes, pots, borders, bedding and even for rockeries. Both the double F-1 hybrids and single petunias like light soil and moderate sun. Pinching helps to form bushy and horizontal growth. These have a very subtle fragrance.

Metthiola or stocks are fragrant plants grown for cutting, borders, pots as well as beddings. These must have a rich well-cultivated soil and they like some lime as well as feeding with liquid manure. These are available in white and shades of pink, blue and mauves.

Nicotiana has sweet-scented tubular flowers which generally open after sunset. They like rich moist soil and will grow in full sun or partial shade. Pink, white or red-coloured ones may not be as strongly scented as the greenish whites are.

Sweet peas deserve special attention as it is an excellent cut-flower which will also fill the atmosphere with its sweet fragrance. Sweet peas, more than all other plants, benefit from a well-aereated soil. The soil should be deeply dug and enriched with a little potash and lime, in addition to organic manure. These need staking with twigs criss crossing or could be trained over a network of strong cords preferably against a tall wall or hedge. Ideally the rows should run from north to south.

Sweet sultan (Centaurea moschata) is an excellent winter annual which can boast of handsome silky flower heads of white, light and deep mauve, purple and yellow as well as enchanting fragrance. It likes plenty of sun and loves lime in the soil.

Sweet William is another popular winter annual which has fragrance. The stiff sturdy stems with crowded beautifully marked flowers heads make good cut flowers also.

Violas and pansies have very delicate fragrance and come in many colours. They can stand partial shade.