Use all your senses when you enter our gardens - especially your sense of smell.
If you love to smell your flowers as well as look at them, please come out to the IDEA Garden and enjoy our almond verbena (Aloysia gratissima). Look up as you walk onto the circular path near the north entrance. You will see a 10-foot or greater shrub blooming with spires of little white flowers. Pull a limb down and smell the luscious vanilla scent. No - the shrub is not the most beautiful plant in the garden, but we love working out there with that lovely light scent.
Almond verbena, also known as "Bee Brush" and "White Brush," is a member of the very large verbena family, of which several varieties grow in Texas. Almond verbena grows anywhere south of the Red River, but not usually as large as the tree-size one in the garden. Freezing to the ground every year, it comes back in spring, growing rapidly through fall. We cut it back a couple of times, or at least trim it up to keep it from shading out other things. Blooms appear by summer and continue until first freeze. Butterflies, bees and hummingbirds all gather to sip nectar along with many other smaller pollinators.
Almond verbena would be wonderful planted near a patio or sitting area to provide its delightful smell as well as the pleasure of watching all its little visitors. My daughter had one for a little while until their dogs found it. It must taste as good as it smells because they ate every leaf that appeared. If you keep bees, this plant is a great addition for you.
Almond verbena is native to most of Texas, and only asks for full sun and well-drained soil. Now for the hard part - finding it. You can find it for sure at Stephen F. Austin State University's SFA Gardens Plant Sale in spring. Blue Moon Nursery and King's Nursery in Tenaha sells it. If you can dig around and find one, it will become one of your favorites.