A beautiful fall fragrance from the tiniest of blossoms on a shrub described by Dirr as a “genuine horror ….. long shoots wander in disarray from all areas of the plant….. fast, does not adequately describe the speed with which it grows.”


Elaeagnus pungens, often refered to as ‘UGLYAGNUS ‘ emits a fragrance that  is incredible, somewhat reminiscent of Gardenia.

 The very first time I encountered this plant was with my (then) new friend Tara Dillard,  at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. The fragrance was so marvelous,  notes were immediately made to acquire this shrub; then Tara gave me the lowdown on this ‘weed’.

Years later I discovered the variegated Elaeagnus  (Elaeagnus pungens ‘Maculata’  or ‘Aureovariegata’) … smaller, slower growing, I was told, a perfect garden shrub.

                                                                                          I succumbed… they lied!



It’s blooming….  As soon as I walked out the door I caught the fragrance. Osmanthus fragrans, known in the south as ‘ ‘Tea Olive’.


Tiny but abundant cream coloured blossoms emit the most remarkable and penetrating fragrance. 

This is a beautiful, pest free, evergreen shrub that matures at 10 to 15  feet, and blooms TWICE a year; fall & spring.

To quote Dirr* “to not try the plant is to cheat one’s garden.” I so agree, and cannot recall a garden design where this plant was not included. It also makes a remarkable evergreen hedge.

This spring, at the suggestion of my friend Marsha, I acquired a new selection (Osmanthus aurantiacus) that blooms only once in the autumn, and the flowers are ‘pale orange’.                                                                                          

 It’s hard to say how fragrant it is because I have Osmanthus fragrans  planted much like Margaret Moseley* advised with gardenias, every 25-30 feet or so ,where an evergreen was required and the conditions are favorable, so the entire garden is permeated with the fragrance. I have followed her advice on this with almost every fragrant shrub in the garden. Something you might want to try if there is a fragrance you are particularly fond of.

I don’t take lightly any advice given by a 95-year-old gardener. Clearly she has much more experience than I.

*Dirr, Michael, Renowned woody plant expert. Author of the textbook A MANUAL OF WOODY LANDSCAPE PLANTS.

*Margaret Moseley, famous Atlanta Gardener.