My nose detected a very strong sweet fragrance when I walked into my community garden after work two evenings back. The characteristic fragrance told me right away that it was from my hedge of Murraya paniculata plants.
This is the second time the plants are profusely blooming for me since I first planted them. The last time I remembered the hedge was in flower was early March this year. I was smiling for days then because the plants finally blossomed.
The hedge is grown right across the entrance of the community garden and whenever the plants are in flower, a ‘wall’ of fragrance is created. This wall will slam onto one when one walks into the garden. Actually, one does not even need to walk into the garden to smell it. The fragrance can easily be detected several meters away when one walks past the front of the community garden.
This fragrant shrub has common names like the orange jasmine, mock orange or mock lime because its white flowers resemble those found in the true orange/lime plant. This similarity is not coincidental and can be easily expected because both the Murraya paniculata and the true orange (and in fact, the true lime as well) all belong to the same botanical family, Rutaceae.
Only when the hedge is in flower, people would then start to take notice of the plant. Most of the time, visitors to the community garden would just walk in without paying much attention to the Murraya paniculata hedge. When not in flower, the hedge just appears like a plain, uniform and boring row of green foliage.
Due to the strong scent that is being emitted whenever the plants are in flower, visitors to the garden are often be ‘sent’ on journey to search for its source. After they find it, they would always be pleasantly surprised to know that the source of the fragrance is due to the profusion of white flowers that have been produced by the shrubs they have always taken for granted. What follow after the flowers fade are small, rather attractive, oval fruits that are at first green in colour which then turn orange and finally red when they are ripe.
The Murraya paniculata plants that are planted in my community garden have always been cut back severely to retain its form and shape to form the hedge by my Town Council. If left alone, it can actually grow up into a tree of more than 7m! One can only imagine the scent that will be emitted by a tree of this size is in flower!
Let’s take a look back in time when this hedge was first planted in the community garden from the picture below. That was two years ago and the plants looked like twigs because they were newly propagated plants bought from a local nursery! How pathetic! No one knew the lush hedge that they are enjoying today actually started out that way.