Pinnate boronia flowers.
Pinnate boronia flowers. RugliG

Lovely scent of nature's perfume

The garden centre is full of fragrance now, as the jasmine competes with the citrus blossoms, the osmanthus and the brunfelsia. But perhaps the prize for the most delicious scent of all goes to one of our native plants, the brown boronia (boronia megastigma).

This lovely small shrub grows about 1-2m tall and has fine foliage arranged in whorls around the thin stems. It flowers in spring, producing masses of small, bell-shaped flowers, which are brown on the outside and bright yellow inside, or bright and plum-coloured in the plum bells variety.

Though not very conspicuous, it has an intense and exquisite fragrance. Boronias are in the same family as citrus and the scent is reminiscent of orange blossom - sweet and fruity and utterly delectable.

The flowers are the source of essential oils, which are used in perfumes and as a food flavour enhancer.

Boronias need excellent drainage, a slightly acid soil, consistent moisture and preferably light dappled shade. It's important to keep the root zone cool, so ensure there is a generous layer of mulch at all times.

If you have sandy or loamy soil, by all means plant a boronia in the garden. But if you have heavy soil or clay, pot culture is the way to go. Fortunately, boronias grow well in pots, and it will be easy to position the plant where you can enjoy the fragrance when it's in bloom. The flowers last well when cut, so you can enjoy bunches inside too.

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