In The Garden Now…..Mock Orange

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Mock Orange ‘Snow Dwarf’ 

Text and photos by Victoria Gilleland

There are dozens of scented shrubs that can be grown in Northwest gardens, but Mock Orange is among the easiest to grow and one of the most fragrant. With many varieties to choose from you can probably find one for your garden or to grow in a pot. There’s even a native that might be a nice addition to your garden if you have the space.

Mock Orange bears its common name for good reason. The scent of the flowers is a lot like that of orange blossoms. Since few of us in this area have flowering orange trees, it’s a real treat to get a whiff of that heady scent on a stroll through the garden.

Like many fragrant plants the scent is more intense when the air temperatures are higher and the air is still. This shrub is typically in bloom for four to six weeks in May and June depending on the weather and location in the garden. Bees and butterflies are attracted to the flowers and deer tend to leave the plant alone.

Mock Orange ‘Innocence’
My personal favorite, ‘Innocence,’ is in full bloom right now. This is a very fragrant single flowered variety developed by French hybridizer Victor Lemoinei in 1896.

It’s been flourishing in my part shade garden for about 15 years and has been kept a reasonable size by pruning each year right after the plant has finished blooming.

If left to reach its potential size it could easily end up 8 feet tall and wide. It produces masses of very fragrant single flowers that are set off by stunning variegated foliage.

My shrub has been disease and pest free for its entire life in my garden.

I have to confess that I’m a sucker for beautiful variegated foliage and ‘Innocence’ has it in a rather delicate looking green, yellow and white pattern. This is such a wonderful contrast to garden green. I’d be tempted to grow a beautiful shrub like this for the foliage alone!

If you’re interested in a smaller plant consider ‘Snow Dwarf,’ a lovely very fragrant double flowered variety that will stay quite compact at about 3 feet tall and wide.  The foliage on this plant is a soft green.  This one could reside comfortably in a large container for many years.

If there was a “Garden Fragrance Competition” adding Mock Orange to your garden could earn you a Blue Ribbon! And besides, you can’t have too many fragrant plants.

Botanical Name:  Philadelphus lemoinei ’Innocence’
Philadelphus ‘Snow Dwarf’

Victoria Gilleland is the owner of Cottage Garden Designs, a Garden Design company specializing in Redesign of Residential Gardens, Garden Consultation and Coaching. She has been designing gardens in the northwest for over 20 years.  vjgilleland@yahoo.com  

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