Sunday, July 10, 2016

Scentsational Summer

I know, it's an oft-overused pun. But this year I have been noticing it all the more. Now, reminded by this article written by my friend and erstwhile co-blogger Ruchira Paul at 3QuarksDaily, I venture to write of my own olfactory experiences this year, with a few photos to go with them.

Summer is the time of the scent of fresh cut grass, usually on those dry hot days when the lawnmowers will not get clogged up with wet intake. It's a dry green smell, if scents could have a color.
Then there is the wild honeysuckle that lines the paths of the walking trail near my house. I walked along it on weekends, with a group of friends who inhaled its fragrance and tried to identify the flowers. 'Lilac' suggested one, 'No, no, it's called something else.' said another. "Why don't you take a photo and do a reverse image search?" I suggested. "Good idea, I'll try that."
The next week, I asked her whether she was able to find it, but she said it was a fruitless search, as she had photographed it at the wrong angle. I pulled out my phone and took a wild guess- 'Honeysuckle." and there it was, the exact flower that I had photographed.

As the early summer warmth gives way to mid-summer heat and thunderstorms, there's a new odor along with that of dried grass and mulch baking. It's a sweet smell which I identified only around specific patches of grass, home to no more than a few hundred clover plants, humming with bees and the preferred haunt of wild jackrabbits. These are the small unspectacular white clovers, not as pretty as their pink larger cousins, but infinitely more fragrant in groupings.

And of course the pretty-in-pink one, which is spectacular, but doesn't grow in groupings large enough to generate quite the same fragrance.

At one point during the walk, I detected a slightly different fragrance than the clover, near the house which is haven to a group of turkeys in the backyard. There was a small shrub by the mailbox with white flowers that seemed to be the source of the scent. I bent down and sniffed, and there it was. I have no idea what shrub this is, so I took a photo of the flowers, naturally. But Google failed me on this one, the reverse image search just turning up a gazillion white flowers that bore no resemblance to the flowers. So here is the photo. If you are able to identify, dear reader, please leave a comment below with the name of the plant. The flowers were approximately an inch in diameter, for a sense of the scale in the photo.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention my Home Depot-purchased jasmine plant from several years ago. It never fails to put out a multitude of fragrant white blooms in the heat of the summer, and this year is no exception. Nothing like the whiff of jasmine to bring back memories of India!

And finally, just for fun, and a splash of color after all that white, here are unfragrant but lovely denizens of my yard, including a delicate but beautiful mushroom which may very well have served as parasol design inspiration, and a Behren's silverspot butterfly feeding on the coneflower (endangered visitor, from what I gathered).


Lekhni said...

I'd say it looks like a white water buttercup, but since this was on land - maybe search here :

Sujatha said...

Lekhni, thanks for the suggestion. I tried searching some more and found that it is called houytunia cordata or chameleon plant. It is used as a medicinal plant in China and some other countries, but is considered an invasive plant. I guess that also makes it pretty hardy and hard to kill in Pennsylvania winters, but it won't spread quite as much. Another 'weed' turned 'ornamental' (as is the case with Lantana which is freely sold as in garden centers here, despite its reputation for being invasive.)