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Athens was the first sweetshrub I purchased; not only that, it was one of the first shrubs I purchased. Relaying that Athens was one of the first shrubs purchased by a young horticulturist is meant to portray that this is a sweetshrub to covet.
The flowers are yellowish or creamy greenish - but not quite chartreuse - and they're different in color than any other sweetshrub flower. Being a color somewhat similar to the leaves, flower don't wow us with bursts of color, rather they mellonball us over with fruity fragrance.
Calycanthus are hard to propagate, that's why you don't see them for sale very much. Thankfully, they are easy to grow in the landscape when protected from full sun and given dappled shade.
average garden soil, moist-but-draining, no standing water
Soil pH Requirements
acid, neutral, alkaline
full sun, part shade, full shade
To Make It Thrive
In the Deep South, Calycanthus loves growing in dappled shade or in a location where it receives morning sun, but shade all afternoon. For this shady reason, it's a good partner for a hydrnagea garden. Further north, it can tolerate more sun and in the sun it doesn't grow quite as tall. It prefers a rich, loamy soil (a woodland soil). Calycanthus will thrive and colonize in the situations herein described.
Do the flowers smell? Sometimes I've noticed that not all Calycanthus flowers have that lovely melon-like frangrance. Yes oh yes, the flowers of Athens sweetshrub are hightly fragrant. You'll smell them when you're coming around the corner, like 10 feet away fragrant. You're wise to ask because if you want a sweet-smelling sweetshrub, you must buy a named cultivar that's known to have those sweet rewards or make sure you purchase a seedling when in flower, to smell it and make sure it's fragrant.