I like flowers with a vanilla scent, and always try to plant some annual heliotrope (Heliotropium arborescens) in containers and also in the ground near yellow Corydalis lutea. Heliotrope is an old Victorian favourite, and I remember its sweet fragrance from my grandmother’s garden. She also liked the scent of vanilla, and even put dabs of it behind her ears when baking a cake (and I do, too). Heliotrope is related to borage (both in the Boraginaceae family), and the resemblance in flower colour is striking. I usually plant ‘Marine’ (24 inches / 60 cm) in the ground, and ‘Dwarf Marine’ (syn. ‘Mini Marine’, 15 inches / 40 cm) in containers. The dark blue flower clusters can be quite broad, and have a strong vanilla perfume in morning and early evening.
There are other heliotropes I want to try, like purple ‘Fragrant Delight’, mauve ‘Sweet Heaven’ and the elusive ‘White Lady’, which I’ve seen for sale only a few times. After a look at British sources, I’d love to get hold of seed for ‘Chatsworth’ and ‘Dame Alice de Hales’. Can you just imagine how gorgeous they must be? I haven’t found these in North American seed lists, and I don’t understand why we can’t have these lovely flowers in Canada. Have we been too complacent, and failed to express enough interest in heliotrope cultivars? I’ll have to cast my (seed) net farther afield.
Other posts by Judith this week:
Posts by Judith last week: