A fragrant and flowering shrub

The delectable fragrance of the weet shrub is unique, although the aroma of the deep-red blossoms suggest some choice and exotic fruit at its best. This scent varies from flower to flower. The wood and seed pods also are delightfully aromatic. However, their fragrance is not quite the same as that of the double blossoms that range from dark red to chocolate-red. On a warm and sunny May afternoon, when the aroma is strongest, one 6-foot shrub scents an entire side yard. abEach globe-shaped flower consists of about 24 slender, pointed, in-curving petals less than an inch long, usually partly or wholly open , but some remain round buds for weeks.

The sweet shrub (Calycanthus Floridas),m sometimes called Carolina allspice, flower just before the while lilac and continues long afterward. It is still in bloom when the mock orange blossoms.

At first there are more flowers than foliage, but as the weeks pass the leaves grow bigger and more dense, providing a striking contrast for the red flowers.

This shapely shrub thrives in full sun or part shade and grows well even in rather poor, sandy soil. It grows more than six feet high and almost as wide. The larger it is and the older, the less care it needs, quite unlike more familiar shrubs tht require annual or semiannual pruning.

Naturally, you cut dead or broken branches as soon as you notice their conditon. Each year you can saw off, as close to the ground as possible, two or more of the shurb's oldest main stems. This lets light and air reach the center of the shrub and encourages healthy new growth.

Some sweet shrub growers carefully prune a six-foot shrub in later winter so it is less than five feet tall and more shapely. After that it can be left alone for two or three years.

Young sweet shrubs, less than five years old, need more pruning and thinning and usually must be staked and tied. The younger the shrub, the larger its leaves and the fewer its flowers. Nonetheless, several of the flowers on a young shrub may be outstanding in form and color.

The sweet shrub grows in Zones 5 through 9 -- from southeastern Maine to central Florida.

Since it is universally appreciated, why isn't it planted as often as the scarlet quince, the crape myrtle?

When you have just one big old sweet shrub, you are surprised at the number of neighbors who drop in for one tiny branch thick with fragrant flowers.

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