(Reseda odorata) At first sight, mignonette hardly seems a plant to inspire such rich history and lore as it does: an unkempt and sprawly plant with loose spikes of tiny non-descript cream-colored flowers with orange anthers. I’ll admit, when we grew it for the first time and saw it in the field in late spring, we were a bit disappointed. The plant, whose name means “little darling” in French and is thought to be native to the Mediterranean basin, was introduced to French gardeners in the mid-18th century. Known for its intoxicatingly fresh scent (sometimes likened to violets) it fast became popular in London and other European cities at a time when there were frankly more than enough less pleasant scents to go around. Legends of the plant abound through the years including a French Fairy tale involving a theme of “finding beauty within” and a story of Napolean sending seeds from a campaign in Egypt to Empress Josephine for her garden at Château de Malmaison. After initially being underwhelmed, we too were quickly won over by its humble charms. First, its scent is like no other flower we’ve ever come across, described amongst our crew as “fresh”, “fruity”, and “like Smarties”(!). Second, it blooms and blooms and blooms nonstop from early summer to fall. Third, it is an incredible insectary plant and was a hands-down farm favorite of bees this year, providing a dizzying hum of activity for the majority of the season. Dreers 1907 Garden Book describes it as “a well-known fragrant favorite…no garden is complete without a bed of mignonette”. Its star seems to have fallen a bit since then but perhaps it is time for a comeback.
70 days. UO
Packet: 200 seeds