The sense of smell is generally considered to be one of such minor importance, that the idea of comparing it in any way with those appertaining to the eyes and ears would seem at first sight preposterous. Yet this sense is, as regards one aspect at least, more highly strung than either of the two alluded to; indeed, so subtle is it, that it appears to possess a consciousness of its own with which that of the brain is not always en rapport, so alert and so exquisitely intuitive is its perception. Now and again we are arrested by a wandering breath of perfume that momentarily stirs some chord of memory, yet with such a down-soft touch that, even as we are aware of the vibration, it has ceased—the scent is still in the air, but its elusive message has fled and in vain we search for the clue; we only know that at some period of our lives a like fragrance has held a meaning for us.
Of this nature, though less vague, are the recollections of scenes, perhaps thousands of miles distant, suddenly projected on the retina of memory by some indefinable quality in the air. The far-off scene lies spread before our mental vision, but the essence that has invoked it defies analysis. More tangible, and therefore less tantalising, are those odours that bear no uncertain message, whose well - remembered savour bridges the lapse of years and revives, with a microscopical accuracy, memories of the past, to which remembrances, little as we may recognise the fact, we owe many of those illusions that serve to render life less prosaic and material.
"Fragrance," as has been well said, "is the song of flowers," but the language in which that song is written, like other tongues, is best learned in youth, and happy are those whose childhoods have been spent in the country and who have thus insensibly absorbed the essence of Nature's poetry, for theirs are precious, impersonal memories that will remain constant through life—memories of summer nights when the clean, pure breath of the hayfield, wafted through the open lattice window, overcame the heavier odour of the white Jasmine that clambered over the porch below, of dewy summer dawns when the measured rhythm of the mowers' scythe-sharpening from the wet lawns awoke them to the untainted freshness of the cool air tremulous with the morning song of the thrushes, of the scents that haunt the long June twilights, the perfume of lush grasses blown from far pastures and of all the sweet nesses of the open air. Flowers are indeed the nightingales of the many-noted melody of fragrance, but the chorus is infinite, every hour of the day and night having its separate voice. every atmospheric change its distinct tone, lofty tree and lowly grass blade adding each its unit to the mighty cadences of the song.
Who that loves a garden does not know the change that comes over it when, from the blueblack clouds, after weeks of parching days ami dewless nights, the long-desired rain falls upon the thirsty ground. With the earliest mutterings of thunder—those "voices calling out of other lands "—the Sweet Brier, presaging the coming of the downpour, has breathed its perfume on the sultry air, while the first great drops that fall on dust-laden foliage and sunweary petal awake the scents that have lon» slumbered in leaf and blossom. Soon in the glad rain-song of the trees every leaf is vocal and the air is full of the fragrance of the moist earth, while " the soft rain that heals the mown, the many-wounded grass, soothing it with the sweetness of all music, the hush that lives between music and silence," descending like a benediction, draws forth a perfume from every freshened blade. Many are the trees, some suitable to our English climate and others that only flourish in warmer latitudes, which diffuse fragrance from flower or foliage. The stately Lime trees—"the murmurous Limes"—their blossoms haunted by the tribes of ever-shiftitu; bees; the Cedars of xllgeria and Junipers of Bermuda, their precincts odorous as with the incense of swinging censers; the Pines, hoary with the growth of ages, with their elastic carpet of resinous needles and dim aisles fraught with the mysterious traditions fostered amid the "savour and shade of old-world Pine forests where the wet hill-winds weep ; " the Euealyptus, distilling its clean health-giving aroma from leaf and bark. Then in other climes there are odours of the open air that here can be enjoyed only beneath the shelter of a glass roof—the Frangij.ani fringing the roadside in West Indian isles ; Moonflowers (Datura), that at the sudden tropic nightfall flood the heavy air with the opulent perfume of their snowy chalices; ivorywhite Gardenias, tall Tuberose spires, and a host of other flowers that breathe ambrosially on unfamiliar zephyrs.
We have, however, no need in our islands to search the tropics for perfumes, for amongst hardy plants, annuals and shrubs there an' many that will surround our dwellings with sweet scent. Foremost are the Roses, the Teascented, many of the Hybrid Perpetual*, the beautiful singles, the Banksians, Cabbage, M'*& the old Monthly Roses and the Sweet Brier. Then there are the Clove-scented Carnations and white Pinks, which fill even far airs with fragrance ; the old-fashioned double Rockets, the sweet-scented Tobacco plant that, slumbering through the hours of daylight, awakes to life and perfume with the coming of twilight, together with the Evening Primroses; the Lilies, headed by the peerless Madonna Lily, emblem of chastity, that nowhere blossoms in such immaculate perfection as in humble cottage gardens; the showy and richlyperfumed golden-rayed Lily of Japan: the white trumpet Lily (L. longiflorum) and the giant Lily of the Himalayas with its odour of vanilla, while of so-called Lilies there are the modest Lily of the Valley shedding its pun.1 aroma from its drooping ivorine bells, Day Lilies, and the Belladonna Lily. In the spring we have fragrant breadths of Primroses, the large family of the Narcissi, Hyacinths, and the sweetnesses of Violet and Wallflower, followed by a long list of fragrant annuals and perennialsHeliotrope, Mignonette, Sweet Sultan, Stocks, Sweet Peas, Bergamot, Dictamnus, Hedychium (hardy in the south-west), some of the Irises and Pieonies, the scented-leaved Geraniums, the beautiful white Californian Poppy (Romneya Coulteri), honey-scented Sweet Alyssum, and the Woodruff (Asperula) with its faint essence of new-mown hay, while Honeysuckles, scented Clematis, odorous Jasmine, Stauntonia, and the long, lavender flower-fringe of the Wistaria will wreathe porch and wall with loveliness and fragrance. Of shrubs and lesser trees we may grow the Allspice (Calycanthus), Daphne, Choisya, Hawthorns, Lilac, Magnolia, Myrtle, the Syringa-s, Sweet Bay (the Laurel of Apollo's wreath), lemon-scented Verbena (Aloysia), and the Winter Sweet (Chimonanthus) that, alone of its compeers, greets us with its scented breath on dark December days—a Christmas carol of perfume—while space should be found for such subjects as Balm of Gilead, Rosemary, Southernwood, Sweet Basil, and last, but certainly not least, the Lavender, perhaps even more fragrant in death than in life, whose dried blossoms perfumed the interiors of our ancestors' homes with the sweetness that, when alive, they distilled from the trim parterres of old-time gardens. Fragrance was highly considered in the gardens of old, but the mania for carpet bedding and pretentious, geometrical designs in
by age, leads down into this garden of sweet scents, where "Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose" flourish as in those days of yore when the pleasaunce was fashioned for the delight of the fair young chatelaine whose portrait hangs in the oak-panelled hall of the Elizabethan manor near by. The formal beds, carefully tended as in the past years, possess a quaint primness that suggests the staid grace of a byegone century and with which the perfumes of the oldfashioned flowers are in suave keeping. Rows of virginal white Lilies rear their pure spires above breadths of Pinks, Picotees, and Clove Carnations. Here and there the Cabbage Roses have formed great bushes, and the Musk Roses on the arches are bowers of scent, while Rocket, Mignonette, and Lavender lavish their fragrance on the slumbering airs that haunt the confines of the Yews, and the essence of sweet herbs is ever present. In the centre of the garden stands an old sun-dial, whose gnomon still records the flight of the hours on the green surface of its metal disc, but whose motto, carved around the capital of its freestone pillar, the passing of the seasons has well-nigh obliterated. Only one word— "sapit " — remains readable, and the stray letters that can, at intervals, be deciphered are insufficient clues for the reconstruction of the time-worn legend, "Sapit "—" Is wise." As the eyes rest on the
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brilliant colours during the short summer months left no room for the sweet old favourites whose places were usurped by scentless flowers of gaudy hue, requiring yearly propagation, and in winter careful nurture under glass. Few were the gardens at one time, except those of cottagers, that were not given over to this undesirable innovation, and few, therefore, can now be found where the restfid reign of the old Bowers has continued unbroken by the incursion of more showy invaders. Where such gardens still exist they are generally situated in remote country districts, attached to some old grange or manor house, which has stood aloof from the hurrying tide of change in the placid backwater of its serene environment, round which the uneventful years have circled without disturbing its unruffled calm.
Ensconced in a corner of rural England there lies a typical garden, or rather portion of a garden, of this description which, heedless of the changing generations that have come and gone, has itself remained unchanged save in minor details. On three sides it is enclosed by tall Yew hedges, on the fourth by a wall surmounted by a stone balustrade that shows grey and Lichen»|)otted between clustering Honeysuckle and Jasmine that wreathe its pillars. A flight of broad steps, cracked in places and discoloured marred lettering one finds oneself speculating as to whom it may be that has thus garnered the wisdom of the years. Whether the first fair mistress of the garden, in that far country where no shadows abide and the light is not of the sun, finds wisdom all-suflicing. Whether in the fulness of knowledge there comes not at times a faint stirring of some chord of memory that recalls the long-forgotten scent of posies gathered in the garden of the sun-dial, and the sweet, sunny hours that its tireless finger marked so unerringly, sweeter, perhaps, for their very uncertainty and for the unrecorded hours of shade which also held a charm.
In our lives of evanescent action the scenes are shifted so swiftly, incident succeeding incident so rapidly, change following so closely upon change, that there is neither rest nor finality, but memories are unaffected by time, and a fragrant air has power to reawaken them in all their pristine freshness. "Thoughts and remembrances. These are the things that live for ever. It is only these that are real."