The African elephant is known to have the longest gestation period of any animal, which lasts up to 22 months.
It’s New York’s proverbial minute when compared to bringing a new shrub to market.
Take, for example, crossing two native sugar shrubs to get one worthy of the “Simply Scentsational” name.
Tim Wood, aka The Plant Hunter, did just that. And now, after just over a dozen years and thousands of sniffles, Simply Scentsational will debut in Spring 2022.
Granny’s sweetshrub is now a more beautiful deep burgundy red with a scent that will put you in a state of euphoria.
Simply Scentsational is an erect cultivator, reaching 6 feet in height with a 5-foot spread.
It is recommended for hardiness zones 4-9. Botanically, Calycanthus floridus is native to over 20 states in the eastern United States, as far north as New York and south as Florida.
In addition to the name sweetshrub, it is also known as Carolina pepper and spicebush. These names tell you a lot. Try cutting a stem or two for the vase.
The first time I saw the native sweetshrub, I immediately fell in love with it. The small flowers and the scent of a deep burgundy were an instant lure. I saw them in old houses and plant exchanges, but hardly ever on the market.
The western United States is not without its own version. The California pepper, Calycanthus occidentalis, is somewhat similar, with thinner petals and a little less fragrance. However, both native versions were used in breeding to turn the world of sugar shrubs upside down.
Simply Scentsational will now give Proven Winners an exceptional duo, as they also have Aphrodite, courtesy of North Carolina State University breeding.
It is a hybrid between the California pepper and an Asian species, the Sinocalycanthus.
Aphrodite is even taller, reaching up to 8 feet tall with a spread of 7 feet. Not only is the plant taller, but the red cup flowers are reminiscent of some magnolia blossoms.
The scent is described as fruity with aromas of pineapple and apple. The age of flowering and the time of day also play a role in the olfactory experience.
These shrubs are cold hardy to zones 5 through 9 and perform best in fertile, well-drained soil in full sun to partial shade.
The more sun there is, the more humidity is needed.
As with native species, expect them to offer suckers.
Remove them to create a more picturesque structure. On the other hand, this trait is what makes it one of the best displays for the landscape. The yellow color of fall leaves is a great addition to the woodland garden, where it will stand out from a distance. Many will also be delighted to know that these are not on the deer menu!
One thing is certain: our grandparents would be delighted with both Simply Scentsational and Aphrodite sugar bushes.
What is very special is that, thanks to Proven Winners, they are available in garden centers. Hope you will plant some and create some fragrant memories for your children.
Norman Winter, horticulturalist, garden speaker and author of “Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South” and “Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden”. Follow him on facebook @NormanWinter TheGardenGuy.