By Lynette L. Walther
Fragrance has the ability to transport us to another time, another place, and — when employed in the garden — it can create magic. Many of our emotions and memories are closely linked, due to the brain’s anatomy. Adding deliciously fragrant plants to any landscape can present an entirely new dimension to our garden design.
Oftentimes choosing plants based on color scheme or texture is at the forefront when plant shopping, selecting and planting. But concentrating on scent is where we are headed today.
According to the National Garden Bureau, when selecting plants for a garden, spectacularly scented shrubs, perennials, bulbs, annuals and – of course – herbs are great choices to bring fragrance into the landscape.
More gardening:The versatile, colorful, historic and mysterious begonias
Washington Oaks Gardens:Historical garden for the ages, comes alive for springtime
Consider choosing fragrant plants that bloom at different times throughout the year for a succession of scent through the seasons. You’ll enjoy sweet scents all season long with a little planning. While fragrant flowers add sweet scent to a garden, the foliage of many plants provides fabulous fragrance, too. Look to herbs for garden fragrance. Plant a rosemary hedge or trim to silvery mounds. Citronella foliage and a variety of mints all can deliver a boost of aromatherapy. Sacred basil is sweetly fragrant, and both the flowers and foliage can be employed in herbal remedies and teas.
Following are some fragrant shrub choices to consider.
Roses: ‘A rose by any other name would smell as sweet’
Heirloom and old garden roses often deliver subtle fragrance and good disease resistance. Mrs. B.R. Cant is one that blooms in waves throughout the year. Look for newer varieties like Purple Prince or citrus-scented California Dreamin’ Hybrid Tea Rose; the peony-shaped blooms scented with hints of apple and champagne of Parfuma Earth Angel; or the dark red, sweetly scented Brindabella Crimson Knight rose.
Gardenias: Nothing says Old World elegance like the scent of gardenias
For an early, double variety with 4- to 5-inch blooms that continue throughout the growing season, try First Love. If space is an issue, you’ll love the compact, mounding Buttons gardenia. Only 2 feet tall and 3 feet wide, the reblooming beauty makes a terrific addition to containers.
Sweetshrub: A gardener’s dream
This Southeastern native that ranges from New York to Florida and west to the Mississippi River region is also known as Carolina allspice.
The fragrant blooms smell like citrus, banana, strawberry, pineapple, bubblegum or even gin, depending on whom you ask, plus the shrub grows beautifully whether planted in full sun or deep shade. Native plant lovers will adore Green Thumb Award-winner Sweetshrub Simply Scentsational, a cultivar hardy in zones 4-9.
Deep maroon blooms appear in spring throughout summer, smelling like pineapple or bubblegum. Venus produces large shows of clear white, magnolia-like blooms with a banana fragrance in early summer.
Traditionally used as a specimen plant or a hedge in the landscape, new cultivars offer a variety of sizes, according to NGB. Illuminati Tower grows in a columnar habit with a unique four-sided “tower” effect, producing hundreds of fragrant white flowers in early summer. Reaching only 3 to 4 feet tall and 1.5 feet wide, it’s ideal for narrow spaces. Compact Snow Dwarf grows only 2 to 3 feet tall and produces pure white, double flowers with fabulous orange-blossom fragrance, perfect for small gardens.
Brugmansia or angel’s trumpet
This exotic, long-lived woody perennial can reach the size of a small tree, depending on the variety. It can perfume the garden with fragrance from its trumpet-shaped blooms and is a great choice for container plantings. Many brugmansia flowers are especially fragrant on warm summer nights. Place these dramatic plants where you can enjoy the scent.
The 6- to 24-inch hanging blooms may be white, cream, yellow, peach, orange, pink or red, depending on the variety. Charles Grimaldi is an old-fashioned favorite, with golden blooms that turn orange-salmon when mature. Cypress Gardens makes an ideal container plant, with white flowers fading to pale salmon.
The blooms are most fragrant in the evening. Inca Sun is a hybrid that flowers continuously throughout the summer. All brugmansia need protection from frost and all parts of these plants are toxic.
The pretty evergreen vine with star-shaped white flowers and dark green foliage looks lovely covering a wall, trellis or arbor, or use it as a gorgeous groundcover. Jasmine is a tender perennial hardy in zones 8-11 and is a perfect choice for area gardens. Or for a lovely addition to a moon garden, try Arabian jasmine. The lush foliage of this vine contrasts beautifully with the intensely fragrant, petite white flowers that open at night and close in the morning, fading to pink as they age.
Lavender: One of the most recognizable scents
Lavender provides a soothing, calming fragrance that relieves stress and anxiety. Lavender also looks lovely in well-drained garden beds and containers, plus the flowers add both beauty and fragrance to bouquets.
But not all lavenders smell alike. Look for some of the most fragrant cultivars for your garden, like Lavandula angustifolia Folgate or Hidcote or Munstead. All three varieties are popular among perfumeries – an added benefit to including lavender in your fragrance garden. And lavender is popular for herbal creations with dried flowers and fresh flowers are edible as well, perfect for a variety of culinary creations.
Lynette L. Walther is the GardenComm Gold medal winner for writing, a five-time recipient of the GardenComm Silver Medal of Achievement, the National Garden Bureau’s Exemplary Journalism Award and she is the author of “Florida Gardening on the Go.” She is a member of GardenComm, the professional organization for garden writers. Her gardens are on the banks of the St. Johns River.
- LASSAM: Knowing the poisonous plants in your garden
- Mississauga Celebrates the Year of the Garden – City of Mississauga
- Why Coquitlam is sprouting red plants to unite the community
- Tips to help your garden, plants survive Louisville’s scorching heat
- Warning issued over strange 'harmful' froth spotted on garden plants