Tonight we did it again: stopped on the bluestone sidewalk of Amity Street near Clinton, and sniffed. There it was. We had walked right into that cloud of scent. This time we knew what it was.
I've always read that witch hazels are scented, but until now had never experienced their perfume. I had left a note in the vestibule of the house to which the scent belonged, and had waited. While I waited I passed the garden one day on the way to run some errands, and saw the gates open, revealing not the garden I had imagined, but a gravel car park. And beyond the cars a haze of yellow witch hazel.
A few days later I received a polite email inviting me to come and see it, and I did just that. It was a very kind gesture, allowing a stranger to see and take pictures of the tree that had made her happy one late February evening in the cold. The scent was not there that day, but if I pushed my nose right against the flowers it was discernible. Cold days make the scent go away, said the owner. It was a beautiful, spreading tree, 25 years old.
But I wonder if it might not be night-scented. Does anyone know? Today was mild. We even saw people sitting outside at Prime Meats on Court Street, bundled up in coats, but visibly happy to be eating dinner al fresco. So temperature may play a part. It's just that the times I have scented the invisible flowers, have been in the dark, where the invisible presence of perfume stopped me.
As I sit here, the sliding door is open to the Brooklyn night, the sirens, the swish of traffic. The pots stand poised on the terrace, waiting, showing nothing. The earth has moved in the little container where the Seneca sunflowers were planted, and I think something is happening there.
On Pacific Street the camellia is in bloom, and so far only one branch has been broken off by a passerby. All the buds hang, waiting, but three flowers have opened. That reminds me to check on the pink Viburnum farreri on Baltic Street. Ah, just checked on the blog - late March.
And who grows the lemon tree in the sunny bay window, looking like an old shop front, on Court Street? It has both fruit and flowers at the moment, and in the other bay window is a strelitzia from South Africa. Tonight the blinds were drawn, and I could see the citrus tree silhouetted palely against the white paper. Maybe I should push more notes under more doors.
Tomorrow we visit our friends Dan and Nancy, whose garden space has expanded and needs ideas, and we will see if it is too early for some buds on their Daphne.
What is flowering in your hood?