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Stop and Smell the Lindens

The garden world is rife with unseen delights. Some are simply hidden, like the fat carroty roots of peonies that we marvel at only when forced to dig one out. Some are heard and not seen, like an unfamiliar bird call somewhere in the distance that leads to (sometimes hilarious) attempts to describe and mimic the faint call we heard to anyone who will listen.

And what about the smells of the outdoors? Just the words ‘smell of rain’ and ‘fresh cut grass’ probably evoked memories as you read them. Lilacs are ever popular for good reason. But what is that sweet, floral scent wafting through the air right now? Not a flower in sight that would explain it, but a heavenly blanket of fragrance no less. Could it be the lindens flowering?

The buttery flowers of Tilia spp. are easy to overlook with a quick visual scan, but the linden flower scent is impossible to ignore.  A mature linden covered in flowers can perfume the air for quite a distance and the smell is so pleasant that linden flower scent is common in perfumes and soaps. When you do spot the flowers (often covered in happy bees by the way), their sheer abundance is impressive.

Plant a linden (also known as basswood and American basswood) somewhere near enough to the house that the scent can waft in through a window or float onto the deck or patio.  A handsome tree in general, lindens offer excellent shade and shouldn’t require a lot of pruning for good structure. They prefer rich, moist, well-drained soil but are adaptable within limits. 

We have a big one in flower at the nursery right now, and if you hurry, you might be able to stop by and smell the lindens.