That old saying about taking time to smell the roses takes on a new meaning in June. This month, a number of sweet-scented flowers, not just roses, perfume the air and brighten our spirits.

One of my favorites, and one that I have taken pains to assure grows in my yard, has much to recommend it. Dame’s Rocket, often mistaken for garden phlox, comes into bloom now. The heavenly aroma of these four-petaled flowers (true phlox has five petals) really comes into play once the sun sets. Then, the sweet aroma of this common wildflower permeates the still, evening air, even going so far as to waft into open windows and doors, tickling the senses of those inside.

Dame’s Rocket, Hespris matronalis, is an alien, or introduced, plant, as are so many of our common weeds and even beloved flowers. Once a cultivated plant, rocket has long since escaped cultivation and now grows on rough ground such as along railroad right-of-ways, roadsides, woodland edges, on people’s lawns, along brooks and streams and even in garden soil.

The flowers grow atop a hairy stem, or spike. The leaves, pointed, toothed and wider at the base than at the end, grow alternately. The plant attains a height of up to 3 feet.

Dame’s rocket has another thing going for it. The leaves make a fine potherb, delicious when briefly simmered in a little water, drained and served with a dash of butter, salt and pepper. Some might add a few drops of cider vinegar.

The culinary properties of this plant should not come as a surprise, given that it is a crucifer (as indicated by the four petals) and related to the mustards. Most of the plants in this sphere have fine table qualities. The leaves are best used in spring, April and May, and again in September or October.

If the idea of a fine edible flower, one that self-seeds readily and even serves as a table vegetable appeals to you, here’s what to do to get your own supply. Mark where the flowers bloom now. They come in shades of white, pink and purple, so identifying them should not present a problem.

Anyway, note where they grow now when they are easy to spot. Then, in late August, return to that spot and harvest a bunch of the dried, pointed seedpods. These contain countless tiny, black seeds. Take these home and roll the pods in your hand in order to release the seeds. Then scatter them on the ground, preferably ground that you have roughed up with a hoe or even a small tiller.

That’s it. From that point on, the plants will grow, set seeds and prosper. I do hope that some of you will try this and later, enjoy these wonderful, old-fashioned favorites. They will make your June evenings much more spicy and pleasurable. And, of course, growing these from seed costs nothing, the reason for my title of “Dollars And Scents.”

Sweet Invader

Another sweet-smelling plant comes into public view now. Multiflora Rose, Rosa multiflora, puts out huge swathes of pure-white, fragrant flowers. This plant, too, is not native and was introduced in the 1800s. Back in the mid-1900s, the United States Conservation Service recommended the plant to control erosion and since then, individual states, Maine included, promoted multiflora rose as wildlife habitat.

So now, this invasive rose grows rampantly around old homesteads, along streams and along roadsides. It took a while, but people finally recognized that this aggressive plant could and does, crowd out indigenous plants. Multiflora rose reproduces by seed and also, when the tips of its arched stems touch the ground, they set root and produce a new plant.

This pretty rose has recurved thorns and these grab on to anyone or anything that touches them. Multiflora roses form impenetrable thickets, so thick that while some wildlife species manage to take refuge in them, many are unable to. All in all, its beauty and sweet fragrance is not a worthwhile tradeoff for the plant’s objectionable qualities.

But since these roses are so common and since it doesn’t appear that they are going away any time soon, we may as well enjoy the tantalizing sensory show while it lasts.

Finally, while not particularly fragrant, lupine comes into its own in June and these, too, are common along roadsides everywhere.

June calls to us to get out and notice the beauties of nature and to enjoy country life to the fullest. A transition month, taking us from spring to summer, June seems to me all too brief. But for a short month, June certainly packs itself with natural wonders, many of them sweet smelling and beautiful to behold. And that doesn’t cost a cent.