Tag Archives: The Fragrant Path


Clethra alnifolia is more commonly known by its many descriptive names of Summersweet, Sweet Pepperbush, and Honeysweet. In an old book on fragrance, written by Louise Beebe Wilder, she writes that in Gloucester of old it was described as ‘Sailor’s Delight.’ During the 19th and early 20th century, as told by Wilder, the sailors entering the harbor on homebound ships would reportedly delight in its fragrance wafting out to see.

Much of Niles Pond road is to this day lined with great thickets of ‘Sailor’s Delight.’ Wild Clethra growing on Cape Ann blooms during the month of August.

The following is an excerpt from a book that I wrote back in 2004-2007, which was published by David R. Godine in 2009. The book is about designing landscape habitats for wild creatures and for people, titled Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities: Notes from a Gloucester Garden, and all that I wrote then, still holds true to day.

“Summersweet bears small white florets held on racemes, and depending on the cultivar may be shaded with varying hues of pink to rose-red. The tapering spires of fragrant blossoms appear in mid to late summer. Clethra has a sweet and spicy though somewhat pungent aroma, and when the summer air is sultry and humid, the fragrance permeates the garden, Summersweet is a nectar food attractive to bees and a wide variety of butterflies, notably the Silver-spotted Skipper.” See more at Oh GardenMyriad species of bees and butterflies, along with Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, are attracted to Clethra for its sweet nectar, while American Robins, Goldfinches and warblers dine on Summersweet’s ripened berries.
Clethra fruits ripening


Uggh, it’s tough. Get the vaccine if you can. I had tried several times but it was never in stock and then I would lose track. Today is the first day trying to go without the pain medication. Practically anything is better than feeling ditzy all the time. It’s worse at the end of the day.

I’ve been home so much this spring and don’t usually get to enjoy our roses. Charlotte and I have been loving sitting in her tent having tea parties and reading storybooks and you can smell the roses while we are reading, it’s really so sweet ❤

North Shore Design Show: Favorite Spaces

Dear Gardening Friends,

Please join me Saturday May 22nd at 11 am at the Wenham Museum where I will be presenting my latest talk, with photographs, titled “The Fragrant Path.” The Wenham Museum is offering a week-long program of special events, lectures, and presentations in conjunction with their 2010 Spring Benefit North Shore Design Show: Favorite Spaces. Last year’s show was a fabulous success and this year’s has been greatly expanded, with a longer running date and more programs. Not to be missed are two of my favorite designers, Elizabeth Hourihan of Carpenter & MacNeille and Yvonne Blacker. The theme of last year’s show centered around recreating favorite scenes from childhood tales. Elizabeth’s exhibit featured custom built cabinetry highlighting the beautiful workmanship of Carpenter & MacNeille and the children’s book author and Gloucester’s own, Virginia Lee Burton, including original textiles by Burton’s Folly Cove Design Studio. Yvonne’s exhibit was an utterly delightful woodland teaparty. I cannot wait to see what they have come up with this year!

Warmest wishes,