Credit is due.

Recently, I wrote about the stench on Riverside that was filling the air as our backyard lake drained away. Since then, the water has gone back to where it should be, and the proper smells of spring have replaced the stink. I love having flowers in our yard…there’s not much than can rival the show when they are all in bloom…but if it is a flower that can delight the nose as well as the eyes? Well that’s even better.

All around our yard we have things that bloom and smell wonderful. It is hard to beat the show the peonies put on, both sight and smell, and when the fringe tree blooms, it looks like a giant ball of white lace and smells so wonderful that you just have to stop and take a sniff.

Through all of the pomp and circumstance, however, there’s one teeny, tiny little flower that blooms almost unnoticed…and I should know. We didn’t notice it for the first two or three years we lived here. When it does bloom, its perfume fills our entire yard. I am not exactly sure where my “happy place” actually is, but wherever it may be, I know what it smells like.


No, not the percolated caffeine beans we all crave every morning. In fact, I think I would gladly give up drinking it altogether if every day of the year the Kentucky Coffee trees could be in bloom. They are one of the last trees in the yard to actually leaf out, and shortly after they do, these little clusters of dainty white flowers appear. How something so tiny can smell so strong and so wonderful is an absolute mystery to me, but I sure am glad it does.

I really don’t know how we missed it the first few years we were here. I can only imagine that something else was in bloom at the same time, and we gave the imposter all of the credit. Once we finally saw the blooms and figured out that they were responsible for the heavenly smell, it became one of my favorite moments of spring…the coffee trees blooming.

As if it weren’t bad enough that they have a bloom that doesn’t get noticed and a fragrance they get no credit for, they were replaced as Kentucky’s state tree by the rather mundane and fragrance-free tulip poplar after holding the title for almost twenty years. They truly are the Rodney Dangerfield of the forest world. No respect.

But here on Riverside, they are now the Aretha Franklin of our back yard.