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Linden trees scent local parks

In a recent Southern Oregon Journal column, Sanne Specht wrote about a wonderful scent coming from trees in Medford's Hawthorne Park. But she didn't identify the type of tree. I would like to know, as I am landscaping my backyard and would like to plant some fragrant trees that will grow well in our area.

— Judy A., Central Point

According to Bill Harrington, Medford's city arborist, the heavenly scented trees mentioned in Specht's July 24 column are Linden trees. American Linden trees, to be precise. Or, if we want to get all Latin about it — Tilia cordata.

Harrington said there are at least four Linden trees in Hawthorne Park. Most are near the east end of the park, he said. Linden trees are also planted in Bear Creek Park, Alba Park and other places throughout the valley.

Harringon recently planted more Linden trees, albeit a different species (silver Linden), along the sides of City Hall.

Master Gardener Althea Godfrey also had a great fondness for the Linden tree, which she discussed in a 2009 article for the Mail Tribune.

The trees have a handsome traditional shape, and they provide a dense shade. They can top 100 feet, but are very slow growers. Their leaves are attractive, heart-shaped and an apple-green color with a lighter underside, so they are fun to watch in the breeze, she said.

The trees' flowers, which first appear as clusters of hard little green marbles, open sequentially over a period of about two weeks toward the end of June. But this season can vary depending on the weather. This year, no doubt due to our lingering wet and cool spring, the Hawthorne Park trees were still wafting their scents across the olfactory receptors of park passersby until late July.

The good news is the trees do well here in the Rogue Valley. The bad news is you're too late to catch a whiff of a Linden blossom this year, Judy.