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Stop and Smell the Nicotiana

Speaking of recycling, I really look forward to taking the trash out to the curb.

The reason? I get to walk past the Nicotiana alata that Anne planted in the front yard. Nicotiana’s many small, white flowers are closed and withered-looking during the day, but at night, the flowers open wide and exude the most beguiling and intoxicating aroma. The flowers’ perfume mixed with the warm night air spins the stuff that sweet summer dreams are made of.

I told you it was intoxicating.

I must say the fragrance certainly affects my brain and reminded of a stupid thing I did long ago when under the influence of honeysuckle vapors. I was driving to New Hope on a hot night in the middle of summer and the honeysuckle filled the air with sweetness.

On this particular stretch of road there were neither street lights nor cars, just me sailing along under a starry sky, so I switched off my headlights and flew through the warm air in complete darkness. It was quite an ineffable feeling to be flying along like that until I realized I really couldn’t see where I was going. Yikes! Still, the memory of the warm night, the honeysuckle, and my uncharacteristic recklessness lingers.

If you’re looking for something decorative and, nay, intoxicating to grow, plant some nicotiana post haste.


These are not Nicotiana alata, but Nicotiana silvestris. Alata is typically shorter and broader, and its flowers are bigger than silvestris. We have some silvestris in the back yard, but this was actually taken at the Rodin Museum in Paris. The negative was handy.

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