July Fourth is right around the corner and pollution from fireworks and fires is always a problem, but at least we can temporarily take our minds off the vog from Kilauea.
We can’t do much about the vog, but we can be mindful of minimizing the smoke from fires and fireworks. Of course, there are other ways we can clean up our little piece of paradise. The obvious is to clean up roadside trash that accumulates over the holidays. Air quality is a little more difficult, but by proper landscaping, we can improve that as well.
Hawaii has a special magic. The scent of flowers perfumes the air and sets a tropical, romantic mood whether you live mauka or makai. By adding more flowering plants to your area, you can combat unpleasant smells from car exhaust fumes or rubbish cans. There are many good choices for your garden. Orange blossoms, as well as grapefruit, lime, lemon, and tangerine, all have a delicious fragrance.
Many lesser known plants can add a pleasing fragrance to our gardens. Some of these, such as plumeria, ginger, angel’s trumpet, night blooming jasmine, fragrant dracaena, gardenia and mock orange are equipped with fragrance so potent that it can fill every inch of garden air space and drift into the house, too. Others, including spider lily, produce subtle perfumes that don’t travel as far and are best appreciated at close range. A drive in the country is a delight now since many species of ginger are beginning to bloom. In West Hawaii makai, the native alahee is blooming with a fragrance similar to orange blossoms and Kaloko mauka evenings are rich with angel’s trumpets.
Some fragrant plants also beautify, help reduce carbon dioxide and add oxygen to your garden. One striking shade lover is the brunfelsia. The native of South America’s scientific name is Brunfelsia calycina floribunda. It gets its common name, yesterday-today-and-tomorrow, from the fact that the 2-inch tubular, flaring flowers are purple one day, violet the next and almost white the third. The flowers form chiefly in spring, but sometimes spring through fall, or in spring and again in fall.
The plant may grow as high as 10 feet in partial shade but can be kept as low as 3 feet by pruning.
There are many kinds of jasmine as well as several other plants called by that name — including star jasmine and orange jasmine, aka mock orange, that are not jasmines at all. There are several true jasmines that bloom with fragrant flowers. Jasminum ilicifolium and Jasminum multifolorum are two shrubs used as foundation plantings. They may also be grown as vines and will bloom profusely.
Star jasmine, Trachelospermum jasminoides, is a viny shrub. Tie this plant to a post, fence, or some other support and it will climb; or pinch out branch tips and it will cover the ground. The clusters of star-shaped, white flowers contrast nicely with shiny dark green leaves.
Orange jasmine, Murraya paniculata, is a member of the citrus family and is an attractive evergreen shrub or small tree with glossy green pinnately-compound leaves. The white flowers are produced at intervals throughout the year, followed by clusters of red ovoid fruit. It is a vigorous grower and may be used as a small tree, an informal high hedge or screen, or trimmed to a formal shape.
Night blooming jasmine, Cestrum nocturnum, produces flowers with a powerful scent. A single plant per garden should be plenty. These evergreen shrubs grow 6 to 8 feet tall or more and bloom off and on throughout the year.
Plumeria should be found in most gardens, but a close relative is rare. Tabernaemontana, or cinnamon gardenia, was originally introduced by Paul Weissich at Foster Gardens in Honolulu. Flowers are produced year-round and have a cinnamon fragrance. The odor is delicate, but one or two flowers perfume the whole garden. Close relatives are ervatamia, crepe jasmine, cerbera, stemmadenia and oleander. Look for these and more at area nurseries and garden shops.
Sweeten your garden with the scent of tropical flowers.