Though it’s still cold and windy outside, it’s time to start germinating flowers and vegetables inside and get them ready for planting next month. Moonflower (Ipomoea alba) is one of them. I have been growing Moonflowers for years. Both of us love to have fragrant flowers in the garden, merely beautiful flowers just won’t do. A flower without a scent is like a woman who dresses nicely but has nothing else to offer beyond that. So, 95% of the flowers in our garden are fragrant, differing only in a matter of degrees.
We grow flowers that perfume our garden all day, but during the work week we are only able to enjoy them in the evening. That’s when the Moonflowers come into the picture. The flowers start to unfurl like a beach umbrella at dusk. You can literately see them opening. The pure white, six inch in diameter flower is equipped with a sweet, soothing perfume. The flowers look even more magical under the moonlight.
I soak the hard seeds for 3 to 4 hours then put them between damp paper towels. A couple layers of towel at the bottom and cover them with two layers on top. Make sure the papers stay damp but not soaked. Their little roots will start to come out in two days. Once the root comes out you can put them in the soil in individual containers or right in the ground if it is warm enough outside. The seedlings will push themselves above the soil in a few days. For us, we’ll have to wait for the weather to warm up outside.
I start all the beans and peas this way, they germinate faster than just putting them right in the soil. It saves time and doesn’t waste any space for the non-germinating seeds. The Moonflowers below are on our kitchen counter now, waiting to be transplanted or adopted by our friends.
Spring wouldn’t be complete without the Clematis Montana (Clematis montana var.Rubens) blooming. A sea of pale pink flowers draped on the pool fence and so crowded we can hardly see their leaves. Not just the beautiful delicate flowers that make the Montana the desired climber for cottage gardens, but also its fragrance that is so breathtaking. It is a mix of vanilla and chocolate that perfumes the garden in spring for a month. In May, the lilacs at the corner of the toolshed pass the fragrance baton to the Montana who, in the next couple of weeks, will pass it to Ms. Kim Lilac at the corner of the pool deck.
We have the Montana by accident, by the way. I ordered two Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis terniflora) years ago in hopes of having some flowers that would keep the garden fragrant in fall and early winter. I planted them not far from one another. A year later, the one on the pool fence bloomed pink – and in spring! I knew then it’s not a Sweet Autumn, but what? After doing some research, I found that it’s a Clematis Montana. No complaint here, just surprise, and even more surprised when it did really well in our garden. As far as I know, we’re not supposed to be able to grow the Montana in our zone; it’s too cold for this cultivar. A vender in the city assured me of as much.
Now, its bloom becomes something we wait for every spring. It can grow to 30 feet and grab everything in its path. I will have to prune it a little bit this spring after the bloom fades, to keep it to one side of the fence. I never have to take care of it, aside from mulching once a year. The down side is that it only blooms in spring, then we have to wait for another ten months. It is worth the wait though.