The Philadelphus

One of the plants we grabbed from a recent trip to the nursery was Philadelphus “Belle Etoile” or Mock Orange. I really like Philadelphus, a good one has such sweetly scented white flowers, I could sniff them all day. The fragrance ranges from bubblegum to sugary orange syrup.

Our local National Trust has several large Philadelphus shrubs and they range from having very little fragrance to knock-out perfume you can smell a mile off. The whole point of a Philadelphus is its fragrance and so it was with some trepidation that I went for the “Belle Etoile” variety.

I’ve spent some time searching on the internet for “the best smelling philadelphus” and there wasn’t really a consensus on what the most fragrant ones are. I wish there was a categoric source of information that would tell me that the one I have bought is going to fill the garden with scent when it flowers. Tester bottles would also be extremely helpful.

For now I’m going to have to play the waiting game and wait until it flowers next year to see what kind of Philadelphus I have. Of course, what I should have done is gone to the nursery when they were in flower so I could sniff-in-situ but I only got round to it now and I don’t want to wait until next year, hence the gamble. I hope it pays off.


  1. I have a Philadelphus that came with my house, growing right outside my bedroom window. Although it’s very pretty when it blooms, it has no discernible fragrance — which is a disappointment. I hope you have good luck with yours.


    1. Hi Jean, that’s so disappointing. Do you have the courage/heart to take it out and put a fragrant variety in? Especially if it’s by your bedroom window?


  2. I have a feeling that the amount of fragrance that comes from a particular specimen depends on a variety of factors, like optimal growing conditions, age of the plant, etc. I have a Darlow’s Enigma rose that was barely fragrant the first year but now I can smell it from several feet away. Best wishes and good luck, but even if it’s a bust when it comes to fragrance, you’ll always have your lilies.


    1. Hi Jason, thank you, I hope my gamble pays off. I assume it’s going to flower next year, but it is still quite a small plant so it may not be for a few years yet before I learn. If this one isn’t fragrant, then I might just take it out (or move it) and try another variety.


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