BURYING your nose in a bunch of lavender or running your hands along a hedge in full flower is one of life’s pleasures. Whether it’s an old-fashioned rose, a small bunch of freshly picked violets or a pungent herb, the heady smell is a reminder of the joy that nature – and gardening – bring to our lives.
Lilac trees hold a special place in my heart. My mother grew them in Nottingham and she picked the flowers in spring to bring inside so we could enjoy the delicate blooms and revel in their beautiful perfume. Likewise with sweet peas, which she grew in abundance every year.
An Australian friend got quite teary in the 1960s when he came across some gum trees while in the Canary Islands, which shows how evocative a fragrance can be.
No garden is complete without something exuding an aroma, be it a tree, vine, shrub, ground cover or herb – unless, of course, you’re highly allergic. So let’s start from the ground up.
Obvious flowers that have a delicate smell are violets, but they can be a curse when they multiply, unless you go for native violets (Viola hederacea), which aren’t quite so prolific. Dianthus or pinks (smaller relatives of carnations) have a very sweet smell. Lily of the valley has a lovely perfume and flowers on Caulfield Cup Day, but I find them tricky to grow. Then there are the many heavily scented spring-flowering bulbs such as freesias and jonquils.
Check out the hands of ginger at your supermarket or farmers market: Look for smooth, paper-thin, golden, shiny skins and plump fingers, signs of ginger freshly harvested.
It’s time to enjoy this robust, flavorful rhizome from island farmers; as ginger ages, it becomes more fibrous, potent and shriveled.
Ginger is essential to Chinese cooking, used for its aroma, flavor and physiological effects. It’s considered a yang food because it stimulates such functions as blood circulation, perspiration and digestion; it can also prevent nausea.
It is always paired with fish to kill off fishy odors and is used in a wide array of dishes that are boiled, braised or steamed. Nothing compares to ginger in chicken long rice, shredded atop steamed fish or finely minced over cold chicken.
Since yesterday was Mother’s Day, and last week my mother’s birthday, this article is for Mom, who passed away at home earlier this year.
I kept her bedroom, where she spent the majority of her time, always brimming with assorted orchids, for their dazzling longevity, and tuberose, for their celestial fragrance.
One day I purchased tuberose from a florist friend, who ended up generously giving me the entire bucket. I arranged several stalks for my mom’s bedroom and the remaining ones for her adjoining bathroom. That night, about 2 in the morning, I could hear stirring from her bedroom. Because she suffered previous falls, I bolted to her. With her diminished mobility, she was trying to secretly relocate the tuberose to the living room because its overwhelming scent had saturated her bedroom.
I totally underestimated the immense perfume they would generate that first night. My mother was embarrassed because she didn’t want to hurt my feelings by removing the tuberose. I was relieved and amused.
Tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa) is kupaloke in Hawaiian. The Greek words “polios” and “anthos” mean “many flowers.” The Latin derivative of tuberosa means “swollen” or “tuberous,” for the roots or tubers. It’s a member of the family Agavaceae.
A Big Island coffee farm is among 10 in the world to win the distinction of “Coffees of the Year.”
Kailiawa Farm was the only coffee producer in the nation to get that title from the Specialty Coffee Association of America and Roasters Guild competition in Houston, West Hawaii Today reported Friday.
The farm is on the Big Island’s southern tip known as the Kau district, which in recent years has been gaining recognition among coffee aficionados. Coffee in neighboring Kona has long been well-known.
Bull Kailiawa of Pahala told the newspaper he believes his family farm’s location in an area called “Cloud Rest” is key to producing quality coffee.
“The rain plays a big part,” he said. “It brings energy and we’re thankful for being on that belt line.”
This is the second time the farm received the honor.