The flowers of the star jasmine (Trachelospermum) have started to open and already, on a chilly, grey morning, there’s a heady perfume in the air by the terrace door. To the other side of the door the Iceberg rose is weighed down with full trusses of white flowers. Their perfume is lighter, somehow bright and fruity. The scent of the star jasmine is strongest after dusk, to attract night flying moths. On a warm, evening it can be positively sultry.
The Trachelospermum flower buds open in a curiously complicated way. The pale green sepals open first, giving the impression of tiny green flowers. As the flower bud extends beyond the calyx the sepals curl back, forming a decorative frill around the junction between flower and stem. The flower buds quickly develop two distinctly different sections. The base of each petal is fused to its neighbour to form a narrow, ridged tube. The outer parts of the petals develop separately, tightly twisted around each other until the flower is ready to open. The tension that develops in the twisted bud may help the flower to open quickly when conditions are right. Certainly most of the flowers seem to be either closed or fully open, with few in the halfway stage between.
Yesterday afternoon the sun came out and the day warmed up quickly. Several bees and a hoverfly were buzzing round the rose but paying no attention to the Trachelospermum. Those flowers may be laden with nectar but it is out of reach at the end of a long, narrow flower tube, intended for a different kind of pollinator.