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Q Could you mention some shrubs with aromatic blooms that we could plant around our outdoor living area? I have fond memories of such a fragrant planting around the backyard of my childhood home. We will include those that are hardy in a large part of the United States, including your state (Iowa). Folks should consult local nurserymen for varieties or species that are most suited to their areas.

Two spring favorites are crab apple and lilac. There are many fragrant azaleas, but remember two precautions: Be sure to provide an acid soil and see that your choices are hardy. We hesitate to recommend mock orange (Philadelphus) because of complaints that newer strains lack fragrance.

Roses, including old-fashioned species, should give fragrance and beauty through June and July and again in early fall. A dainty May-June bloomer is Daphne cneorum, a superb low-growing evergreen shrub with masses of tiny pink flowers. Carolina Allspice (Calycanthus floridus), also called strawberry shrub or sweet shrub, is a spring bloomer with an unforgettable, heady fragrance. No list is complete without Viburnum carlesii or one of its progeny. Often called fragrant snowball, it is an unrivaled spring bloomer. Because there are few fragrant shrubs for midsummer and fall bloom (for your area), we'll mention two vines that are easily trellised. Sweet Autumn clematis blooms from late summer into fall; Lonicera (honeysuckle) starts blooming in midsummer and continues into autumn. Q In December 1983 we saw beautiful potted ornamental peppers in a florist shop, for holiday gifts. In October 1984 we bought some seeds thinking we could grow our own gift plants in our small greenhouse. We were surprised to find they take much longer. They were in their best red color around Easter instead! When would you suggest we plant seeds to have them ready in December 1985?

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