Jasmine – fragrance fanatics stop and breathe deeply at even the mention of the name, reminiscing and recalling the powerful scent these flowers bear. Although not all species of Jasminum are fragrant, so engulfing is the perfume of the species that are, its name has come to define heady scents.
My first love with jasmine was a vine common in Northern California known as Pink Jasmine. J. polyanthum was an evergreen vine covered with pink buds that opened with that unmistakable scent each spring. It was easy to care for and very prolific – if your temperature stayed above 20°F. It was like a determinate tomato in that it flowered all at once with only greenery for the remainder of the year. Gardeners in that part of the world paired it with Clematis or climbing roses to obtain the best of both worlds...evergreen foliage and 3 seasons of bloom.
My interest turned to other jasmines that flowered in summer rather than spring. J. stephanense flowered next, pale pink and fragrant, but a shy bloomer for collectors only. Regarding abundance of blooms, J. officinale falls somewhere between the two previously mentioned species; enough so that I brought a large specimen with me when I moved to Oklahoma. Each white flower is larger than those of J. polyanthum and the bloom period is prolonged from mid-summer into fall. Seared by the heat in past years and subjected to frosts on occasion; this “Poet’s Jasmine” has been very forgiving.
Last year I found yet another jasmine on Lowe’s clearance shelf…Jasmine nitidum. Known as Angel Wing Jasmine, it bears not only larger foliage but larger flowers up to two inches in diameter. These flowers do emit the traditional fragrance, but the flowers are unique in that each bear ten or twelve “petals”. (I use the term petal loosely for I believe the divisions emerge from a single source rather than being individual entities like daisy petals that can be plucked on at a time. I also bet there is a term for this trait that a faithful reader will kindly share with me.)
My friend Emilee loves the Arabian jasmine. A smaller “vine”, almost a sprawling shrub, J. sambac has fully double flowers. The fragrance is as strong as the show is when the plant is in bloom.
Angel Wing, Pink and Arabian jasmines may all be found at local suppliers at different times throughout the season. Be aware that all of these (and possibly the groundcover star jasmine Trachelospermum jasminoides) will not live through our winters. Plan on bringing your plants indoors.
LeeAnn Barton has worked with nurseries for more than 20 years. She digs in the dirt in Stillwater. Direct any questions to her, especially about tree selection, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.