Last spring, we planted Confederate Jasmine in a large, round terracotta pot on the porch. The pretty plant is popular in New Orleans and throughout spring and summer serves as a veritable citywide air freshener. Our Uptown neighborhood in particular seems to have surrendered to the unyielding campaign of this spirited plant. It climbs up and creeps across countless courtyards, fences, terraces, poles, patios and porches, breaching tall trellises and lattice-covered brick, wood and stone walls, fighting it out with flowering magnolia and honeysuckle in a Southern scents battle royale. 

At first, ours was a modest collection of vines and its handful of sweet-smelling white flowers came and went without much fanfare. Over the coming months, the hardy plant would go through fits and starts of growth; climbing up the lattice we anchored it to in the pot and requiring frequent trims off of the top. The bottom and middle foliage began to fill in and every few weeks, we’d spend a few minutes winding and weaving new vine growth into and around the lattice.  A couple of weeks ago, I started a countdown to the first blooms, my excitement growing daily, like the budding light green leaves and fresh tendrils. Last week, the lattice erupted into a star-shaped bloom fragrance bomb.

As a serial plant killer, I’m happy to report that Confederate Jasmine, also known as star jasmine or trachelospermum jasminoides as its known in scientific circles, is tough and easy to maintain. While not native, it grows exceedingly well in the Southeast, thrives in full or partial sun and responds well to pruning. Learn more on the University of Florida Gardening Solutions website. I’ll give Mark all of the credit for its current glory. He has the green thumb in our house. However, I was occasionally left alone with it. If I wasn’t able to murder it during the weeks long spans it was left in my care; anyone can have success with this plant. If you are looking for an aromatic addition to your porch, fence, trellis, railings, lattice or anything else that can take a climbing vine, this vegetation is for you. It also can serve as ground cover, but grows at lightening speed, so be prepared to prune often.

Thursday of last week during one of the many recent rainstorms, we retired to the porch to enjoy a crisp Pinot Grigio and pizza al fresco. After dinner, we stayed put with our remaining vino to take in the sights and sounds of the April showers, passersby braving the weather and the Streetcar rambling down St. Charles Avenue. From my rocking chair, every inhalation burst with the heady aromas of rain and the honeyed perfume of our jasmine wildly climbing and blossoming in its corner of the porch. It was a fine way to toast what we like to call porch season and celebrate the first blooms of spring.

 

 

P.S. Brennan’s is hosting a Veuve Clicquot three-course tasting dinner with Veuve Clicquot Winemaker Pierre Casenave on April 23. Tickets are $150 per person and include an original menu paired with Veuve Clicquot Rosé  vintages and live entertainment. For tickets, click here. Brennan’s is located at 417 Royal St.