Mudgee in the Spring- fragrantissima bellissima!

Mudgee may be famous for its wine and honey, but for me, nothing beats its spectacular gardens. And if your dream garden involves sweet perfumes in the air, you should consider some of the of drought- and frost-tolerant plant types that, right now, are turning on the magic out here in the Central West.

Roses are the crowning glory in our district’s gardens from early Spring right through til June. Even after our incredibly harsh 2017 Winter, the roses are putting on a magnificent display in gardens all over town, and many of them are fragrant varieties.

Sharelle invited me to visit the magnificent garden of her historic home, high on a hill and overlooking the historic, gold-rush town of Gulgong (about 30km from Mudgee). Despite the rocky substrate and thin soil cover, Sharelle’s passion and hard work have resulted in a garden full of gorgeous roses. Many years of repeated applications of lucerne hay and mushroom compost have built up the soil to sustain this breathtaking display. Here are some photos just a small selection of Sharelle’s fabulous, fragrant roses.


“Mr Lincoln” (photograph by Michael)


Pure white rose (photograph by Michael)


“Mary Rose” (David Austin rose) (photograph by Michael)


“Heritage” (David Austin rose) (photograph by Michael)


“Heritage” (photograph by Michael)


Climbing rose “Kathleen Harrop” (photograph by Michael)



Scabrosa rose

There are fragrant trees too. All around the streets of Gulgong and Mudgee are mature specimens of the Australian White Cedar tree, and its frothy sprays of delicate lavender-coloured blossoms produce soft, sweet fragrance at this time of year. Here is one of the many White Cedar trees in and surrounding Sharelle’s garden.


Australian White Cedar


White Cedar flowers

Right now, sitting on my porch in Mudgee, I’m breathing in the heady fragrance emanating from my neighbour’s dwarf magnolia. It’s like the sweetest pineapple scent you could imagine. My neighbour on the other side has one as well, so I’m receiving the full power of this fragrance. I’m not sure of  its name- perhaps you will be able to identify it for me from this photograph.


Liz’s dwarf magnolia

It’s a relatively small, handsome potted plant with glossy dark green leaves, growing adjacent to an east-facing brick wall. The diminutive flowers certainly pack a punch!


Dwarf magnolia in its pot

There are plenty of old fashioned favourites growing in the Central West, like the sweet honeysuckle. I inherited a specimen in my back yard and contrary to my expectation, it has not grown out of control. I enjoy its delicate perfume and nectar, its pale cream-and-honey coloured flowers, and the bees which it attracts, every Spring time. My veggie gardens are nearby, so I bless this pollinator-attractant for its beneficial influence on my harvest.


Honeysuckle (photograph by Michael)


Honeysuckle blossoms (photograph by Michael)

Another stand-out favourite among Mudgee gardeners (and just about everywhere else in Australia), is the Sweet Pea. Walking the streets of our town, each Sweet Pea-bearing trellis, tepee or arbour, announces its presence well in advance, by its spicy fragrance and range of beautiful colours from pale pastels to bright vibrant hues.

Ruth’s garden is a great example of the vibrancy and vigour of the Sweet Pea. This flourishing crop is actually self-seeded from last year! The consensus of local gardeners (including Shiralee and Kate) is that, for best results, Sweet Peas should be planted on St Patrick’s day (17th of March), although Carole points out that they can be planted as late as April, in our district. I’ll definitely be planting some next year.


Ruth’s vivid display of self-sown Sweet Peas (photograph by Michael)

I’m wondering if Ruth’s Sweet Peas may be the legendary Matucana variety, reputedly the most fragrant Sweet Pea in the world.

This posy of pastel Sweet Peas on my work table, has perfumed almost my entire house. (My friend Anne says she can smell it from Tasmania, but I think she’s exaggerating).


Perfect Perfumed Pastels

Before I finish, I want to mention two other old-fashioned treasures: Lilacs, and Brunsfelsia (Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow). These aren’t very common on the streets of my town, but I’m intending to find a place for each of these in my dream garden, if I possibly can.


Liz’s Brunsfelsia


Lilacs at Rosby Wines

Mudgee’s honey is famous all over Australia, and it’s undoubtedly sweet, and I think I know why!

Big thanks to Sharelle for taking time to show me around her historic garden. Many thanks too, to all the other gardeners who allowed me to photograph their wonderful plants, and who gave me helpful advice and information. And of course, thanks to Michael for his beautiful photos.

Readers, I’d really love to hear from you- scroll down to the bottom of this page to leave a comment.

Do you have any fragrant plants in flower now?

If you’re on the other side of the world, can you tell me about your favourite fragrant plants, and what’s happening in your gardens now?

And would you like to “follow” my blog? You can do so via this web page- please let me know if you have any trouble doing this ( Alternatively you can follow via my Facebook page,My Dream Garden AU.

I wish you happy times in your dream garden!

8 Comments Add yours

  1. anner6556 says:

    Not only the sweet peas but also the roses, Mr Lincoln especially, have filled our little home on wheels with gloriously intoxicating perfumes. It only requires an active imagination to bridge the senses!

    Lovely pics too Michael.

    WiFi is becoming horrendously expensive so our FB posts will unfortunately be infrequent.


    Sent from my iPhone


    1. Jane says:

      Hi Anne, yes Mr Lincoln is superb. But I’d caution against too many sweet peas in confined spaces- there’s a danger of intoxication! Enjoy your travels and I’ll be keeping a lookout for occasional FB updates! J

  2. tonytomeo says:

    Hey, we have Mr. Lincoln too! It used to be popular in the 80s.
    I have never seen that white cedar before. I have only read about them. To us, a cedar is coniferous, and some are native. The Eastern red cedar is actually just a big juniper. I really like them, but people who live with them do not.
    That dwarf magnolia is known here simply as Michelia figo. We used to grow it years ago, as well as the larger michelia doltsopa. What a powerful fragrance!

  3. Jane says:

    Hi Tony, thanks for that information. We have 2 native “cedars” in Australia- the White Cedar, Melia azedarach, and the Red Cedar, Toona ciliata var. australis. I think the “cedar” may be a reference to the characteristics of the timber. Red cedar is a beautiful timber for furniture, with a rich red heartwood, and consequently the species has all but disappeared. Both are winter deciduous which is a rarity in Australian native plants.

  4. bev blackley-hortle says:

    Fantastic display of roses sharelle especially considering the harsh weather conditions your hard work has rewarded you well

  5. Jane says:

    I agree Bev- hard work is what makes the best gardens, and it’s also great exercise as well. Time is also so important- I think it’s a mistake to expect too much too soon. But it’s always a surprise to me, when I look at photos taken in my garden just a few years ago, how much change has actually occurred in that time. Thanks for visiting my blog!

  6. Catherine Neill says:

    I can almost smell those beautiful sweet peas! I had a few self sown this year, but didn’t manage to get any fresh seed sown. My roses here are almost dried out, the heat dries out the spring flush, the autumn roses do much better out here. My garden magic at the moment are my huge artichokes, which are just about to flower. They are bee heaven, like huge scotch thistles. But they don’t have any real scent.

    1. Jane says:

      Hi Catherine, your artichokes with their huge thistle-like flowers alive with bees, must be amazing! I’m planning a post about sweet peas early next year so maybe that will remind you to put in some seed on St Patrick’s day! Happy gardening and I hope the summer is not so rough this year!

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