Have you ever noticed that the smell of a blooming rose, or a breeze carrying the scent of lilac, takes you back to a distant memory? Or, perhaps, the scent of lavender or night blooming jasmine makes you feel calm or peaceful? Well, according to scientists, smell, or olfaction, is our strongest sense and it plays an important role in memory, mood and emotion.
Fragrant gardens are a wonderful way to celebrate the smell of every season and relish in the aromatic scents of spring, summer and fall. Below, we’ve created a digest to get you started.
Winter has quieted down and the scent of evergreens, cedar, and chestnuts roasting on an open fire has become a distant memory. It’s time to get those shovels ready and take to the garden!
Peonies, or Paeonia, are an old garden favorite with fragrant blossoms that fill with air with a nostalgic perfume. With a bloom season beginning in mid-May to June, these are an easy-to-grow, low-maintenance plant. By making the right choices, you can also extend the life of your peonies into fall by cutting back and proper care.
Some Chives have early bloom times, such as Allium schoenoprasum, as well as Chives Rising Star. Both varieties have fragrant blossoms in April, May and June. Allium schoenoprasum blooms lavender while Rising Star blooms pink in May.
Lilac is an all-time, nostalgic favorite scent that brings back memories of Grandma or a special garden. Performing best with ample sunlight and air circulation, this shrub will have its strong fragrance blowing in the wind. Most bloom lavender in May, and if proper pruning occurs, increased flowering will result. That means more lovely scent!
A Viburnum can be found for almost any garden situation from a specimen plant in sun or shade or several planted as a screening in a hedge. Their fragrant flowers bloom white in May and they also have spectacular fall color. A particularly fragrant variety is Sugar & Spice.
Pansies are a great springtime plant with beautiful, fragrant flowers. Any of the ‘Majestic Giant II’ series, as well as the ‘Matrix’ and ‘Panola’ bloom in assorted colors with rich fragrance. Bloom times for Pansies include April, May, and June, as well as September, October, and November. They prefer part shade, and if given too much sun or heat, will surely wilt.
The scent of family BBQs, grilling and bonfires lingers in the air and thanks to summer storms and bright sunshine, our fragrant gardens are flourishing! Check out some of our favorite summertime scented plants.
Iris pallida aureo, has a unique smell that has been likened to grape Pez. Other iris have a perfume-like fragrance too. These include any of the Bearded Iris
Lilies, or Lilium, such as the ‘Stargazer’, ‘Salmon star’, and ‘Casablanca’ bloom in the summer months and produce a sweet, perfume-like scent. ‘Stargazer’ blooms in July and August. ‘Salmon Star’ blooms in July, August, and September, while ‘Casablanca’ blooms earlier in June and July.
Everyone knows that Roses are delightfully fragrant. In particular, we find that 'Rose de Rescht' the Portland Shrub Rose is extremely fragrant and blooms a lush fuchsia fading to a purplish pink. Of course, Hybrid Tea, Floribunda, and Grandiflora roses are the most fragrant.
Other fragrant perennials include Fragrant Bouquet Hosta for shade blooms white in August and September and Tall Phlox and Hyperion Daylily for the sun.
Clethra are wonderful shrubs with fragrant white or pink flowers in July and August.
The leaves are changing, days are getting shorter and the heat of summer is slowly subsiding, but that doesn’t mean our gardens can’t continue to flourish. While the temperature may be dropping, there are certainly plenty of cool/cold tolerant fragrant plants to take us through the lovely Fall season.
Prairie Dropseed Grass smells like buttered popcorn, which is quite a unique and tasty scent!
Bugbane, or Actea, are tall, late-blooming plants with attractive and extremely fragrant bottlebrush type flowers. Their cut leaf foliage varies from dark green to deep purplish black and are excellent for shady, moist gardens.
Sweet Autumn Clematis is a prolific vine with pillows of small, fragrant white flowers in September and October.
Seven-Son Flower or Heptacodium is and interesting large shrub with white 6” flowers that last several weeks. Flowers fade to red and remain colorful until late fall. They grow 15-20 feet high by 15-20 feet wide in part shade and average soil.
The native, Common Witchhazel or Hamamelis virginiana, blooms yellow October and November and its fragrant flowers can stay on its branches well into the winter. These are great as a large shrub border in full sun to full shade. Vernal Witchhazel adds its fragrance early spring.
Katsuratree or Cercidiphyllum has leaves that, when changing from yellow to apricot in fall, smell like cotton candy. Introduced in 1865, this heirloom with shaggy bark is perfect for a collector’s garden.
Pansies, as mentioned above for Spring, continue to work well in the fall when the sun falls sooner and temperatures drop. The ‘Majestic Giant II’ series, as well as the ‘Matrix’ and ‘Panola’ bloom in assorted colors with rich fragrance. Bloom times for Pansies include September, October, and November, as well as April, May and June. They prefer part shade.
Due to their cold tolerance, Stock, are a particularly fragrant flowering, upright plant that work well in the fall (and spring). When planted in the summer, these old-time plants will bloom throughout the summer and stay strong when temperatures drop. And, they’ll continue smelling lovely all through!
Some plants want it all and stay fragrant throughout the seasons. These annuals, perennials, and herbs in particular, work well so long as you cater towards cold and heat tolerance, and provide shade/cover from the harsh summer sun if need be. In addition, trimming back and cleaning can often lengthen the life of some plants and prevent disease.
The name Heliotrope ‘Fragrant Delight’ is a giveaway. This plant smells incredible! Heliotrope is an upright, blooming fragrant plant with clusters of light purple/lavender flowers and vanilla scented leaves. This fun, easy-to-grow plant works well in garden beds or containers alike.
Night Blooming Jasmine, opens its blooms at night with a delightful soothing perfume scent. It can be grown indoors or outdoor with full sun to part shade. You can also find Jasmine Sambac which is just as fragrant and blooms during the day.
Agastache is a compact plant with fragrant foliage. Both the ‘Acapulco Mix’ and the ‘Arizona Mix,’ which is also calmed Hummingbird Mint, bloom all season long with assorted colors, resisting cold and flourishing in the heat. Check our perennial Agastaches too!
Sweet Alyssum, Lobularia maritima, such as the Crystal series and Giga, deliver extra vigor, heat and cold tolerance and an incredible flower display ranging from purple, white and a mix of shades. Blooming all season, this aromatic, spreading plant is a perfect garden accent that reseeds easily.
Salvia elegans ‘Golden Delicious’ is an unusual cultivar for salvias due to its bright yellow/lime green, pineapple scented foliage. Late in the season, this variety also produces eye-catching, fire engine red flowers with an apple, or pineapple scent.
These fragrant perennial plants, Geranium Biokovo and Karmina, have a pine/lemon scent when you brush up against their leaves. Geraniums, such as these, are great when planted as a border plant along walkways, or used for groundcover due to their mat-forming habits. Biokovo blooms white, while Karmina blooms pink in May, June, July.
Nepeta, or Catmints, have pretty flowers, attractive foliage, and a carefree nature. These are great for adding a fragrant splash of color to a garden over a long period. In addition, they’re perfect for attracting pollinators!
Dianthus, which come in annual and perennial varieties, are fragrant flowering plants that bloom intermittently all season long with proper care. Dianthus, which are also called “Pinks” are known for their old-fashioned charm and wonderful fragrance.
Calamintha ‘Montrose White’ has sprays of pure white flowers that bloom white from July into October. It’s great for planting along sidewalks and pathways where its beauty and fragrance shine.
All herbs smell delicious but these are some of our favorite for their scent in the garden rather than the flavor in your food. (We’ll get to those next week). Roman Chamomile smells like granny smith apples. Lavender and Fennel also have a wonderful fragrance. And don’t forget about Scented Geraniums! There are many different varieties and scents to choose from.
This is just the start! If you haven’t picked up a copy of our printed Plant Guide this year, now’s your chance. Fragrant plants are noted in their description as well as other helpful information about plant characteristics and care needs.
Posted on 6/9/2016 at 12:08:00 PM