Lecture by Alan Chadwick in Saratoga, May 23, 1972
Lecture 4, Part 4.8
An Introduction to Alan Chadwick's Lectures and a Glossary of Terms
The full text of this lecture segment
Contents of this Segment:
The garden as an extension of the environment; Scents of flowers; Mathiola, Daphne, Nicotiana Afinis, Narcissus, Carnations, Alyssum, Violet, Freesia; The emanation of the people and place of Saratoga.
Villa Montalvo Lecture Series
Saratoga, California, 1972, Lecture 4,
The Totality of the Garden, Part 8
And that in all those areas―now that you’ve got this consummate basis of everything―now you can build the magics of all your individual gardens: your little courtyard of stone with a water-lily pool with Iris all round it. And over here is a rock garden, and there is a Rose garden, and there is a walled vegetable garden, and there is an orchard. And they all are part of a huge totality. But that totality is following the contour of the land and fitting in in the areas of where the soils are right, where the climate is right for this, this plant and these. All these kind of plants like this, they like shade, these like the full sun.
So, I must not say “They’ll have to make do with what they get.” They won’t make do with what they get. You can’t grow Hydrangeas in the sun. Camellias do not like the morning sun, they will all burn, and go brown, and they will look quite horrid, and you will suffer forever for it. The whole garden loves humanity as it loves all of nature. And it asks and requests our labors and our affections to join with it and bring about these things of which there is no question: Man is required, and belongs, and is largely loved by the totality of the whole of nature for this matter.
And that we mustn’t forget the enchantment of scents. And I want to run over, very quickly, partly for your amusement, and also partly for your practice. I want to give you some plants of the utmost magic of scent:
- Viburnum fragrans blooms in the middle of winter and has a scent out of this world.
- Matthiola, Matthiola, or Night scented Stock. It’s the dirtiest, muddiest looking little plant that ever happened. When you see it, you would certainly put it immediately on the compost and jump on it. Its color is grey-mud. Its blossom looks like the bottom of a puddle of grey mud. It only blooms at night. It’s completely nocturnal. And when you open the window, where you must always sow it underneath, you will just absolutely pass out with the exquisite scent. There is no more magical scent in the whole world than Matthiola.
- The Hyacinths, as you all know as the bulb.
- The Sweet Pea, for its very delicate and fragile scent.
- The Daphnes, of which the whole mythology gives us a whole history. But the Daphne mezereum, and the Daphne marginata: two exquisite scents when very little is in bloom at all, on this shrub.
- The Nicotiana afinis, this wonderful nocturnal white blossom, that will invade the whole garden at dusk, with the scent of the most intrinsic Lilies, and will be gone with the dawn. A magic to sit up through the night for, and watch it go as the sun rises. All the scent has gone by the time the light has come, and all the scent is full-on by the time dusk is beginning to come. It’s nocturnal. Nicotiana afinis.
- The Narcissus recurvus, that is the old-fashioned Pheasant Eye. It’s still one of the most delicious scented of the Narcissi, and of course, the old Soleil d’Or.
- In the Carnations, the Enfant de Nice. Everyone of them has a scent of spices. The Rivera giant, likewise, even more so. But that the Rivera giant is blooming throughout the year, the Enfant de Nice is only for three months. And of course, the little Dianthus plumarius which has a scent even more inimitable than either of those, but is again, a brief period.
- Then the magical flower of the garden that’s awfully gone out of date, for some absurd reason, Mignonette. Mignonette is a magic of scents, and partly, again, because the flower is just so utterly insignificant. In fact, it looks like a bunch of rather mad green seed.
- Then there is one that blooms in January and February here, which you must grow if you love scent, and exorbitant soft yellow. The Alyssum saxatile. It gives a huge bed of yellow that blooms for four to five months, even, but a scent of the utmost sugared honey.
- Of course one can’t leave out the Violet and the Convularia better known as Lily of the Valley.
- And there is one other which I can’t... Oh, Freesia, of course. Freesia, strangely enough always has a better scent when it is grown under cover to when it’s grown out of doors. And there are… Parks has a Freesia seed that has new colors of cerise in it, and that has four times the scent of the average Freesia. Parks are very unique seed people, they have some very, very unusual seeds. Partly because of import.
I imagine it must be ten?
May I please, just interlope and say that normally speaking I am a gardener, and I love working. And I think that labor is an attribute of goodness and honesty, and that talking about such things is considerable delirium. And that I never really like it, or enjoy it at all, and sometimes it’s made me very ill. But, if I may be permitted to say so, that somehow, in this beautiful little theatre, and to the people here of Saratoga, I have met something that I have not met before: an emanation in which I have found a great happiness.