You know how sometimes, the smell of something can trigger a flood of memories?
(Photo by Francisco Manuel Blanco (O.S.A.) – Flora de Filipinas via Wikipedia)
That’s what happens to me when I smell night-blooming jasmine (aka cestrum nocturnum).
Its musky, sweet fragrance reminds me of summer nights strolling through the quiet streets of Green Turtle Cay, eating ice cream and laughing with my cousins.
When Tom and I moved to Los Angeles a decade ago, I was excited to discover that jasmine was quite common. I soon learned, however, that it’s not the same as the night-blooming jasmine I know.
The jasmine we have in California blooms continuously for a few weeks during the spring. It’s covered in pristine white blooms and gives off a powerful, cloying-to-the-point-of-inducing-headaches fragrance.
By comparison, night-blooming jasmine isn’t much to look at. Most of the time, it’s just a leafy shrub with scrawny, greenish buds. But every so often, on balmy tropical evenings, those buds open and exhale delicate wafts of fragrance.
When we were young, it seemed like night-blooming jasmine was everywhere on the cay. It’s much more difficult to find these days. Fortunately, I ran into a friend last trip who has a plant, and he very graciously agreed to give me a few clippings.
I was beyond excited. For more than a decade, from the moment we began thinking about buying Fish Hooks, Tom and I envisioned having night-blooming jasmine in the yard. Junior Roberts, whose team of gardeners maintains our property, has promised to mind my prized clippings and plant them when they’re suitably rooted.
Night-blooming jasmine plant (center and right)
Thanks to Junior and his team, the garden at Fish Hooks is coming along nicely. Once nothing more than a rocky pit, our front yard is now carpeted with soft, healthy grass. And our flowering plants and shrubs, coconut palms and young fruit trees are all thriving.
Coconut palms given to us by our late neighbour, Winkie, and a mango tree propagated from a seed by our previous gardener, Charles.
Unfortunately, not much was in bloom while I was most recently on the cay, but fingers crossed, our oleander, hibiscus, bridal bouquet and frangipani will be blossoming when I’m back later in the spring.
And I cannot wait for the first time the fragrance from our own night-blooming jasmine wafts in from the garden!
Also a gift (this one from our kind neighbour, Eileen Hodgkins) our neem plant will also scent the garden when it matures.