The home my mom and her husband/gardening buddy (M&M) bought in Wisconsin had been previously owned by an avid gardener. Their first spring in their new home, about 15 years ago, a few plants popped up in the garden that mystified and delighted us. It was something I'd never seen or heard or before.
The large, distinctive, sweet-smelling blooms were gorgeous. Mom asked me if I knew what it was. I didn't, but was determined to find out. So I did some research and discovered they were brugmansias, plants that are definitely not hardy in M&M's zone 4 garden. They must have self-seeded from the previous year.
They didn't reseed the following year, and since then there have been no more brugmansia volunteers in their garden. Since first discovering them in M&M's garden, I've lusted after these beautiful, fragrant blooming plants. In all the years since, I'd never seen a brugmansia for sale in any of the nurseries around here, although I'd seen them in mail order catalogs. I never got one, as all parts of brugmansias are poisonous. Since our plant-eating cats have left home with my daughters as they struck out on their own after college, it's now safe to overwinter these tender plants inside.
Last year at the end of the season at the nursery, a coworker brought in two brugmansias she'd bought in the spring. She didn't want to overwinter them inside, and rather than let them die she brought them to work to give away. I was lucky enough to be able to take one of them home in exchange for some cuttings Mom & Pop, the nursery owners propagated to sell this year. Realizing how easy they were to start from cuttings, I started a new one myself in case the mother plant didn't make it over the winter in our basement greenhouse.
Both plants made it through the winter, and an un-variegated seedling or sucker had also grown in the pot of the mother plant. This spring I removed the sucker and put it in its own container. I tried all three plants in the sunniest part of our shady back yard garden hoping they'd bloom. They never did. Although I enjoyed the beautiful foliage, I wanted those huge, fragrant blooms! In early September I moved the brugs to our sunny front yard. A few weeks later they were budding. Pulling into the driveway after our weekend trip to Mom's recently, I was delighted to see the buds had opened. The brugs are now safely ensconced inside. I just couldn't put these blooming beauties in the basement! They're in sunny windows in our living room now. Every evening as the sun goes down, their gorgeous scent intensifies. They perfume the entire house all evening, and in the morning until the sun comes up. Every time I pass by the living room, I'm compelled to go in there and breathe deeply. Commonly known as Angel's trumpets for the shape of their blooms, brugmansias are also aptly named for their heavenly scent!