You are here

A nickel worth of scents

A couple of years ago, while I was on my way up to a meeting at Monticello, I was walking by one of my favorite blooming trees, the Mimosa Tree, and saw a woman lying on her back motionless with her eyes closed.  It was one of those moments when your first thought is to worry about the person’s health, but you first voice your concern in an innocuous manner. 

“It’s an amazing smell,” I announced as I passed to see if she would respond. 

“Yes, I know,” she said without opening her eyes.  “That’s why I’m here.”

I’ve worked at Monticello for a number of years and have learned when to seek out some of the best scents. Here’s my top five along with when and where to find them:

  • Fringe Tree, mid-April to early May, just a little to the west of the North Pavilion below the Winding Flower Walk (you can also find some in the Thomas Jefferson Parkway)
  • Flowering Tobacco, early evenings late May through the Fall at various locations along the Winding Flower Walk.
  • ‘Painted Lady’ Sweet Pea, mid-May to mid-June at two locations on either side of the Winding Flower Walk.
  • Mimosa Tree (image of blossoms above), late mid-June to early July at the south end of Mulberry Row and the Vegetable Garden Terrace
  • Tuberose, starting anywhere from late July to late September and lasting until late October, early November on the western side of Winding Flower Walk.

Those are mine, but please feel free to list yours in the comments below.



    1409361857@facebook's picture
    I'm going to go right down to a Mimosa tree on our street and check out the scent! ...when it blooms that is!!!! My favorite scents are Moon Vine and Purple Hyacinth Bean Vine. That might change after I find out what the Mimosa tree blossoms smell like though! :))
    ksmeltzer's picture
    I know this isn't the most original, but I adore the fragrance of lilacs. The scent takes me back to childhood memories of spring. On the mountaintop, we've got lilacs on the east lawn and near the head of the trail down to the family gravesite. I'm sure there are others, too. According to the wonderful <a href="">"In Bloom"</a> page of our website, our lilacs started blooming in April and are still currently filling the air with their wonderful aroma.
    Kristie Smeltzer
    lgrim's picture
    As a student on field trips to local historic sites, I was always struck by the smell of boxwoods. In thinking about pleasant smells, I'm also reminded of when chef Walter Staib used Monticello's historic kitchen a couple summers ago. The aromas his cooking created helped evoke the sense of stepping back in time. You can see more about the show and dishes he created here
    Linnea Grim
    bsawyer's picture
    My favorite is the bushes lining the stairs between the house and the Mountaintop Shop, near the privy vent tunnel. I think they're a type of holly and they get tiny white flowers in late April/early May that smell just heavenly.
    Beth Sawyer
    cwollerton's picture
    Quick update: The Mimosa Tree is in bloom in two locations at Monticello. Look for one in a neighborhood near you!
    Legacy NID: 


    Login or register to participate in our online community.