This week I was gifted an inspiring idea. I went to visit friends Eugene and Deborah’s productive garden to talk about their rain water cistern for a magazine article. As I pulled up, Eugene handed me a green bundle and said, “Here, throw this in your car; it will smell good.” I placed the fragrant posy onto my dashboard. It is a lush sprig of rosemary and 4 English lavender flowers tied with a snip of sisal twine. When I returned to the car after our visit, indeed my car smelled like heaven.
Driving into work, catching glimpses of the green and purple reflected in my windshield, I was inspired to think of other natural car air fresheners. What a great idea! Why hadn’t I thought of this simple delight before? Anyone with good scents knows that the cardboard trees sold to hang off the rearview mirror are cloying at best. I have so many great plants in my garden I can use instead.
Certain herbs came to mind right away. June’s bumper crop of spearmint has meant many fresh “Nojito” drinks (non-alcoholic Mojito). The crisp mint fragrance in the car would be refreshing. Other culinary herbs of course would work, but my Greek oregano would be a bit much on a hot day! It could make me hungry, or more likely put me off souvlaki, my favorite food. Perhaps the universal palette cleanser of parsley would be more suitable in the auto.
I can imagine the aromatherapy benefits of plants and flowers in the car. Will the lavender make me a calmer in traffic? Could lemon balm or grapefruit peel help to wake me on my morning commute? Cedar might be a good one to try when I don’t want flowery or culinary smells so I will try some of the other conifers to see how I like them. Would pine put me in the holiday spirit come fall? On the rare occasions when I take my kitty to the vet, could catmint (Nepeta sp.) ease the ride for the both of us?
More daydreaming has me wondering about other botanical car air fresheners. I love how the leaves of Katsura (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) trees smell like cotton candy when they drop to the ground in the fall. I wonder if a bouquet of green ones drying in the car would impart that same sweet aroma of warm sugar? And I wish I was still growing Sweet Annie (Artemisia annua), an annual grown for it’s yummy smelling leaves. Speaking of Artemisias, I know I will pass on curry, or anything that might make my car smell like I left takeout on the passenger floor too long. That calls to mind the unfortunate time in high school when my friend Cheri and I left a falafel in the car during a warm Southern California autumn while shopping for prom dresses. I can laugh about it now.
I would love to hear reader’s ideas for plants for natural car air fresheners. I am confident that there are endless combinations to try and lots of cool ways to display them, too, from woven mats of twigs to lavender wands. Then there are you lucky VW Bug drivers whose dashboards come with a built in budvase. Chime in!
©Colleen Miko, 2015