Shredding for Aroma.

As I was shredding material for the compost heap, the passage of a little Lemon Verbena through the machine and the subsequent beautiful aroma brought to mind the many plants in the garden which appeal to me for the aroma of their fragrance.

Lemon Verbena which has a beautiful aroma of citrus.

Shredding is generally a tedious job in the garden though dealing with half a dozen whellbarrowfuls of prunings from the Cockspur hawthorn, Crataegus crus-galli, this week was one to keep me alert as the thorns are big and vicious and require careful handling as I had learned when one had inflicted a very bad jab on my arm the previous day while cutting branches from the trees. Generally, shredding is more humdrum work, tedious and time consuming, though I consider it worthwhile for the excellent compost which results.

There are occasional little surprises which brighten the activity, a sudden and unexpected aroma which puzzles the brain for a moment to identify the source. such as the few small pieces of Lemon Verbena which passed through the other day. We don’t often give attention to this aspect of plants, the aroma from foliage. We are all inclined to push our noses into open roses and expect to be met with a pleasant fragrance but we don’t often touch foliage to enjoy the aroma which it releases.

Melianthus major with a touch of frost.

Some find the smell from feverfew or Melianthus major unpleasant but I can never pass without bruising a leaf between my fingers and, while the flowers of salvias are very popular, I enjoy squishing a leaf to release the aromatic oils though I must admit that some are far from pleasant – Salvia turkestanica smells of toilet cleaner! Yeugh! Perhaps, it is just a little too strong for my nose and others might enjoy it! I came on a salvia in Lismore Castle Gardens recently, Salvia ‘Nachtvlinder’ which had such beautifully attractive dark purple flowers and an absolutely magical aroma from the foliage. I must admit to taking a leaf and sniffing it for ages as we walked around.

Some find the aroma from the foliage Feverfew unattractive though it is recommended to relieve headaches.

Rosemary is a favourite of mine and, really, I should have a piece permanently in my hand as it is said that smelling rosemary is a great help for the brain and the memory and I feel mine are fading! Certainly, my memory is a disaster, a perfect colander for past events. Other favourites are the prunings of blackcurrants or of Ribes sanguineum, the ornamental relative of the fruiting bushes. Santolina, Artemisia and Choisya are also very aromatic, the Choisya especially so and Nepeta – well, there might be a hidden cat in my make-up somewhere for it is absolutely beautiful.

Choisya ternata has a very attractive aroma of citrus.
Rosemary in the vegetable garden. This vigorous plant needs to be kept in its space regularly and the prunings add to the aroma of shredding – and help my memory, I hope!

Bay leaf has never featured in our cooking as we have never liked the flavour but I do enjoy the aroma of the crushed leaves. The old stems of garlic add another culinary flavour to my shredding, one I like very much! Clerodendron, Prostranthera, Myrtle and Philadelphus also add to the bouquet of the shredding and I realise, as I finish, that I can’t bring to mind any plant whose aroma I find unpleasant.

Let’s shred!

14 thoughts on “Shredding for Aroma.

    1. Soft material is no bother at all, nor are twigs and small branches – up to what I can cut with a hand secateurs rather than a loppers! I have a relatively big machine, the biggest of the electric models, and I wouldn’t be without it. The most difficult material are those leaves which are very fibrous – phormiums, watsonias, dieramas, for example. Shredding the material leads to quicker decomposition, higher temperatures etc.

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      1. I should add that one huge advantage is that shredding reduces the bulk/volume of the material immediately so you fit more into the bin!

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    1. Our heavy soil which is quite wet in winter doesn’t suit lavender so we don’t grow it. I’m sure it would be beautiful.

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    1. Mary said I had forgotted Eucomis – as she was gardening around a patch yesterday – but they have a smell I don’t really like. Some say it is of boiled cabbage, that metallic greenish smell and I get that same taste from that Elephant Garlic so that even though I have bucketfuls of it I don’t ever eat it.

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  1. Eucomis flowers smell like an incontinent tom cat, lets be honest! Salvia sclarea turkestanica caused some staff at the zoo to be amazed that they could smell the gorillas from the far side of the lake. It also caused the front gate to weekly ask the maintenance team to clear the drains…..whilst collecting seed – at arms length – passers by asked ‘oh what’s that nice smell’ there is no accounting for taste Paddy!
    What about shredding laurel Prunus laurocerasus?? Beautiful smell of almonds, very nice….until you remember that that is the smell of cyanide, you are smelling the poison…..what’s the daily limit for staff??

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    1. I’ve never noticed that from the Prunus and I no longer grow it as it was a nuisance for suckering! Perhaps, it’s safer for me!

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