Nov 3rd, 2011

Osmanthus Surprise

Osmanthus x fortunei ‘Fruitlandii’

Osmanthus x fortunei ‘Fruitlandii’ — you can find a hedge of this one between the Children’s Garden and Grace Arents Garden.

I was taking pictures today in the Asian Valley near the 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 heterophyllus has 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.

We also have the cultivar Osmanthus x fortunei ‘Fruitlandii’ in the Asian Valley and in the Children’s Garden in a hedge bordering Grace Arents Garden.  Osmanthus x fortunei ‘Fruitlandii’ smells just as good but doesn’t have the holly-like leaves of Osmanthus heterophyllus.

Osmanthus arch

Osmanthus heterophyllus in an 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

About Janet Woody

I am the librarian at Lewis Ginter and like to talk and read about plants. I also enjoying researching Lewis Ginter and our founder Grace Arents. Visit me in the library and we'll talk about plants, or history, or some other fun topic.

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