The five senses in the garden

Published 12:08 pm Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The traditional five senses are sight, sound, taste, smell and touch. I believe they are the main reason for many of us being drawn to nature and the garden. Both are a playground of tactile and olfactory sensations.

There is something for everybody to experience in the garden. The sight and smell of flowering plants, the sounds of the gentle breezes rustling through the foliage and the taste of herbs and vegetables picked fresh from the plant are just a few examples of the many garden pleasures to be experienced.

With age, I have become keenly aware of how the sense of smell can provoke a memory of days gone by and long forgotten. It sometimes brings to the surface strong emotions from past experiences of people places and things we have not occupied our minds with for some time.

There have been many studies done on the why and how of it all. Some theorize that the location of the olfactory nerve in relation to the area of the human brain that is connected to emotional experiences and memory is the reason for such powerful experiences regarding the sense of smell. Others believe it is related to the need to smell danger in order to survive during the early days of humanity.

All five of my senses were sent reeling recently when my path took me by the beautiful Goldflame Honeysuckle (Lonicera x heckrotti) growing along the garden fence. It was in full bloom and the intoxicating sweet scent was unmistakably honeysuckle. That and the exuberantly large red and gold flowers against the deep green foliage covering the vine was certainly a declaration that this plant has no intention of being ignored. Mature specimens are breathtakingly beautiful.

The number of honeysuckle species and cultivars are many. They are generally easy to grow with few pests to be concerned with and propagate from seeds or cuttings. They prefer full sun and flower more profusely with it but will tolerate some shade. Honeysuckles are a magnet for butterflies and hummingbirds. If interested in adding one to your garden, be mindful that the scent has been bred out of most hybrids.

Of all the varieties of honeysuckle that I have encountered, Goldflame is my favorite. Its large showy flowers and dense but airy foliage that changes in color from purplish red to blue green with maturity cover the garden fence nicely. The young vines can be easily manipulated on it’s support to grow in a particular form if desired.   

If you are fortunate to have your path cross a Goldflame Honeysuckle while it is in bloom, it surely will be an experience you won’t soon forget. Take pause and allow its visual beauty and heady perfume to titillate your five senses.

The memories and emotions that awaken will be exclusively your own to enjoy.

Dawn Conrad is a columnist for The Kenbridge-Victoria Dispatch. She can be reached at or