Summer afternoons, and the far end of the garden is filled with the scent of mock orange. It floods the warm air, drawing me near like an intoxicating enchantment.
The shrub responsible, a Philadelphus “Belle etoile”, brightens up this otherwise dark corner with its cascades of papery white flowers. Beneath a canopy of cherry plums and ash, it occupies a neglected patch; yet-to-be-tackled, but much-loved by the butterflies and bees.
Nearby a Magnolia grandiflora is more secretive with its scent. I love to bury my face in its bowl-like blooms; the only way to drink in their fragrance. One that is as sophisticated as any expensive perfume.
This magnificent tree was our most exciting discovery when first exploring the garden here. A perfect pyramid, its lower branches graced the floor, bringing its waxy blooms within easy reach.
Then came the garden works, and the suggestion that the grandiflora should be lifted, just a few inches, above the lawn.
Keen to take expert advice we agreed, but were shocked when, returning from work one evening, we found a more drastic approach had been taken. The lower branches were gone, exposing a good section of the trunk and giving the effect of a large, leafy ice-lolly on a stick.
All last summer the flowers remained tantalizingly out of reach. I missed being able to breathe in that closely-held perfume and worried that this simple pleasure would never be enjoyed again.
But this year, now that several of the lower branches have begun to swoop downwards, I can reach them once more.
Standing on tip toe, nose deep in a flower, I breathe in the scent and the magic of summer.