Now is really the time of the cherries and magnolias.

And they are truly stupendous this year.

But let us also remember the much maligned Skunk Cabbages!

Are they really so bad?

As I walked past the little pond the other day I smelt a really…….delicious smell. It was that heavy exotic smell of Lilies, Daphnes or some kind of hot house bloom. Tracking it down there was only one thing it could be. The Skunk Cabbages.

I did a double take. Surely the Skunk Cabbages would smell evil? Maybe it was Madame X , my next door neighbour, wandering around in her housecoat and her kitten heels. But no. Not a sign. Phew!

Truth to tell, in 20 odd years I had never really smelt the Skunk Cabbages  before. Perhaps it was the still, unseasonably warm weather we are having which made the scent extra pungent.

The other change was that having so little rain, the level of pond had  shrunk somewhat and I was unusually able to creep round to the far side where they grow and establish for myself.

Lysichiton americanum, the yellow flowered plant in the foreground, did smell, but just kind of flowery. Whereas Lysichiton camtschatcensis in the background above and in the foreground below:

was a really fragrant  nose batterer! 

There is a conflict here between appearance and expectation. The smallest bloom and the largest, most beautiful scent. Like the voice of a nightingale compared to a peacock. 

Confused I did look it up.

Graham Stuart Thomas says very clearly that americanum smells unpleasant and its cousin is sweetly scented. The RHS Dictionary maintains that it is the foliage of both which is to blame for the name, because it is ‘musky when bruised.’

Well, don’t bruise it then!

These plants usually have their toes practically in water and so are bog garden plants par excellence. In fact since bog garden plants should in my book be dramatic and large, they are the ne plus ultra. These exotic blooms, like up-market Lords and Ladies are followed by large bright green leaves, to 1.2m high, by .6 m across in the case of americanum, while its cousin is slightly more compact.

Some skunk and some cabbage!

R

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