Our usual idea of a flower scent is something that smells of perfume like freesia or jasmine or just a fresh flowery scent. These two flowers go a different way. They smell a lot like grape soda. The first one pictured is a salvia or sage called grape-scented sage (Salvia melissodora). Grape-scented sage is a wild plant native to the Sierra Madre Orienta mountain range in Mexico. The Tarahumara who live there use the seeds and leaves for their medicinal properties.
In its native range, grape-scented sage is a perennial woody shrub growing to two meters. Where I live winters are too cold for it to survive. I grow grape-scented sage in large pots and harvest the leaves in late summer. Grape-scented sage flowers prolifically and the nectar-rich flowers are attractive to bees.
The second one is a bearded iris called, yes, grape-scented iris, a cultivar of the Florentine iris (Iris pallida cv. Dalmatica, syn. Iris germanica subsp. pallida). Grape-scented iris has been in cultivation since at least 1597, a true heirloom. I also grow the standard I. pallida, which has white flowers faintly tinted with rose pink. The rhizomes of I. pallida are the same ones used in perfumery as a fixative. The rhizomes must be carefully dried for two to three years so that chemicals in them will oxidize. The final product is violet-scented.
While researching the grape-scented I. pallida I learned about another grape-scented iris variety, Swerti, introduced in 1612. Swerti, which has white standards and curled pointed falls fringed with lavender veins (“plicata”), is now on my list of new plants for this spring.
Clebsch, Betsy and Barner, Carol D. (2003). The New Book of Salvias. Timber Press, Portland, Oregon.