Laetitia has been named the ‘Nigella Lawson of the Gardening World’, and is a self-confessed plant geek after discovering her mother’s plant encyclopaedia and a packet of seeds at the back of a cupboard one day and grows the most beautiful and deliciously scented plants. We caught up with Laetitia and got some insider hints on plant scents and how to grow-your-own…
Up until now, I’ve always favoured Spring over Summer – mainly because of the sense of newness and hope that it brings. But this year has been different – we haven’t really experienced ‘Spring’ – the weather has shunted us straight from Winter into Summer, and I am simply drinking in the glorious bounty of it all.
If you know me at all, you’ll be aware that I am extremely keen on scent, and a plant without any has got to be pretty special to deserve a space in my life. It’s impossible to name a favourite combination really, but in general I always find that putting mint or nepeta with any deeply floral scent will add a touch of freshness to it and create a knockout partnership. Perhaps my favourite scent of the summer is that of gladiolus callianthus (sometimes called acidanthra). You can grow these lily-like blooms in a container and the scent is quite simply out of this world.
As far as gardening goes, this time for me is one of lazing around doing as little as possible in terms of hard labour. I want to flit around picking flowers and scenting my home. As I write, there’s a posy of roses (a David Austen one, called ‘The Alnwick’ is my absolute favourite right now), nepeta, pinks, lady’s mantle and lavender to keep my olfactory senses satisfied.
But fresh flowers aren’t always available, and there are certain places (like my very dark entrance hall) where they won’t get appreciated, so I’ve got a NEOM Violet, Chamomile and Cedarwood reed diffuser to scent my comings and goings. Violet flowers have a particularly special fragrance – it is so powerful that it actually numbs the sensors in your nose and stops you smelling anything after a while, so mixing the essential oil with other fragrances overcomes this problem and gives you the best of both worlds.
I like to tinker with plants, making everything from my own rosewater to sweet ciceley custard. Today I’m preparing for hot weather by putting sprigs of mint and rosemary into small misting bottles with filtered water. If you put these in the fridge they make a wonderfully refreshing spritz for scorching days. But there are certain plants I can’t grow, so when I want something exotic I love Neom’s organic body wash, and the Happiness scented candle with White Neroli, Mimosa and Lemon. On a warm night you can close your eyes and get transported to another world…such is the power of scent.
You can find ‘recipes’ for all the tips above, and more inspiration in Laetitia’s book ‘Sweet Peas for Summer’ and on her website, www.laetitiamaklouf.com