I drove over on the west side of town the other day. The day was sunny and warm and I had the window rolled down. Just past the mall and across the street from one of the local radio stations, a lovely scent blew in. I took a deep breathe. Ahhhh. It was mint. There, in the middle of doctor’s offices and apartments is the Kalamazoo Mint Farm , at least that’s what I always called it. On different days you can smell the different herbs that are being processed. Usually the mint is the strongest scent but there are also oregano days, which usually makes me want a pizza. It’s a bit of a throwback to Kalamazoo’s agricultural days. If you go over to the east side of town, where it still is actually country, not city, you can see the greenhouses of bedding plants where they used to grow celery at the turn of the century.
On the other hand, while at Mom’s house Sunday, a sweet smell permeated the whole neighborhood. At first I thought it was very pleasant but after a while, it just got sickening. I never realized what cloying meant until I lived with that smell for an afternoon. It turns out that it was a large number of Autumn Olive trees in bloom up the dirt lane. It is an attractive shrub/tree originally from Asia with silvery leaves (the undersides, anyway).
Autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata ) is often planted to provide food for birds and wildlife, but the experts usually neglect to mention how aggressive the plant is and it’s tendency to spread and take over native plantings. Once you plant it, you’ll be digging out saplings constantly.