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Osmanthus Surprise

by Janet Woody, Librarian, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

 

osmanthus bloom

osmanthus bloom

I was taking pictures today in the Asian Valley near the Lora and Claiborne Robins Tea House when a sweet fragrance washed over me. I looked all around to see what it might be. I walked forward and the smell faded, so I turned around and took a few steps back and there it was again. I thought it might be Osmanthus but I couldn’t see any nearby. And then I looked up. There it was over my head, the tiny white blooms that make such as sweet, summer-like fragrance. A smell like that is so unexpected in the fall, when shrubs and trees die back with glorious fall colors and then shut down till spring. This stand of four large Osmanthus heterophyllushas been pruned to arch over the sidewalk, with lower branches pruned away, so they form a canopy over your head. Thank goodness for shrubs like Osmanthus and other fall-bloomers. They give us something to look forward to as summer fades away.

Osmanthus arch

Osmanthus arch

Recently I was knocked over by a big spread of Colchicum in the Healing Garden. Not literally knocked over (I’m much bigger than they were) but visually. Their little bulbs lay in wait all summer waiting for the summer show-off plants to be done. And then they jumped in front of a yew hedge and put on a show. A couple of things to take from this missive: remember to look up and down in a garden. All kinds of surprises await when we look beyond eye-level, and that fall and winter seasons offer a lot of star power in a garden. More reasons to become a member of Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, where there’s a show going on somewhere all year round.

fall crocus colchicum

A single fall crocus; colchicum

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