Scent Memories

For me, one of the pleasures of gardening is the memoires aromas of plants and soil can awaken. Just brushing a geranium or tomato leaf releases the smell of my childhood. A whiff of freshly-turned earth summons memories of planting and weeding with my dad. The sweet-honey smell of alyssum is the smell of the first flower garden he gave me to plant.

Honeysuckle and raspberry evokes my grandmother’s garden, and rhubarb her kitchen. Petunias arouse memories of her kindness when I “deadheaded” all the buds off her petunia plants in an industrious attempt to help her.

Sage is the smell of walks on the prairie with my dog. The spicy aromas of basil, rosemary and thyme will forever be linked to the Waterloo Farmers’ Market when I was a new bride.

Last week, I bought a lavender plant because its fragrance brought me memories of holidays in France and Maui.

Scents have intimate access to deep-rooted memories that cannot be retrieved by conscious thought alone. We do not simply remember; we are taken back. It is a gift.

What are some of your plant “scent memories”?


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