May…. An Aromatic Feast

by Jade Shutes

The following is for the Blogfest created by Roxana Villa for May Flowers.


I walk outside this evening after a day of heavy much needed rain. The relief the plants and the earth feel is apparent. All that is green seems more at peace, a collective ahhhh! Rain. As I walk all my senses are ignited by the beauty of the visual display of flowers and plants just beginning to bud, the aroma of the intoxicating Japanese honey suckle (Lonicera japonica) which covers the back of our property, and the feel of the plants as I lean over to touch them, to bring their aroma closer to my nose. Spring is such a divine season for plants and also for humans to spend time discovering them.

I head over to the honeysuckle. Breathing in, its sweet aroma carries me away into a world of sensuality and dream. I see my son and I picking flowers one by one to enjoy the dew drop of sweet nectar we gently pull from its inside. Just one drop, one tiny drop. A moment of bliss.


Continuing my walk I look around to the back garden, I pick a few German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) flowers. Small, unassuming, gentle appearance with a white flower and yellow center, she has a subtle apple sweet hay aroma. It speaks: rest, sleep, rest your moving feet. Around it sits Calendula (Calendula officinalis), with its strong presence and simple flowers. Bright orange and radiant yellow, the aroma, bitter/earthy/sweet pungent, spreads from its core, up the stems and into the flower.

As I leave I note a few other aromatic plants which live in this section of the garden: Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) and parsley (Petroselinum crispum) with their bold edible aroma. Inspires me to make something to eat, perhaps a ragù alla Bolognese sauce or black bean tortillas.

I walk along the side of our home observing with excitement the 7 plus buds preparing to bloom on our Gardenia (Gardenia sp.) plant. It is early for her. She will open her buds soon and my son and I will rejoice at the beauty of her aroma. My son calls her flower: miss gardenia and he loves to put one in water to place by his bed while he sleeps.

In the front garden I witness the Buddha amongst the sea of white yarrow (Achillea millefolium), simple yet bold in depth of aroma, my prized blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) (five others reside in the back gardens) plentiful with fruit this year, a single vibrant pink Echinacea (Echinacea augustifolia or E. purpurea) stands tall amongst her sisters yet to bloom, and close by, a bushy pink peony (Paeonia ssp.) already flowered and now with only her rich green leaves remaining. Next to her is my single rose (Rosa ssp.) bush, its arms reaching up, holding its delicately fragranced yellow roses. The beetles have not come yet so it is with much delight that I have harvested a number of her roses to adorn our kitchen table. The yellow roses and pink peonies have delighted our senses for many nights now. A lone oregano plant attempts to spread amongst the yarrow.


The next bed contains another peony which displays the last pink flower of the season. I have watched the peonies grow with fascination this year. They are interesting as no sooner have the flower buds arrived ants appear all over them. I learned that ants are drawn to the sweet nectar of the peony buds. They do no harm and some believe they help the buds to open. As soon as the flowers open most of the ants are gone. Moonstruck peony website reports that “According to legend, the peony emanated from the moon. Its glossy seeds supposedly shine through the night too, offering protection from devils, nightmares, and other terrors of darkness. Known as “the blessed rose,” the peony also purportedly guarded against illness, injury, and insanity. The superstitious wore beads, carved from the flower’s roots, as amulets.” I have read elsewhere that peonies would often be grown along walkways leading up to the entrance door to ward off evil spirits or negative forces. I am not surprised, peonies seems to have a way of transforming the negative into beauty, kindness and peace.

As this bed stretches out it is filled with lots of Echinacea not yet flowering, a new young peony, Melissa (Melissa officinalis), Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia and L. stoechas), Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium), sweet Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana), fragrant Asters (Aster spp.) and in the corner at the end, a large rosemary bush (Rosmarinus officinalis) which blessed us with glorious vibrant deep blue flowers this year. My son loves the stevia and was so excited to see it emerge again this year.


In my last bed which resides across from these two, yarrow continues leading to the center with a southern growing lilac (which has not flowered this year) and more Echinacea. In a pot near the stairs of our front door resides peppermint (Mentha xpiperita). My son and I sit and pick leaves off occasionally to smell and to eat. He needs a pot else he take over the garden.

As I close this piece I take a deep inhalation, smelling the moistness left by the rain, feel the cool air, and reflect on all these incredible aromatic, medicinal and edible plants which bless our life and provide us with a path to reconnect with all that is wondrous and magical in the world.

I thank Roxana Villa for her contributions and inspirations to all of us who deeply love this earth and all that she provides.