A combination of aromatic plants can bring a sense of peace and relaxation to the garden visitor. If you covet a garden that smells as good as it looks, incorporate as many scented plants as possible.
It’s possible to find plants that scent the garden year-round. Annuals, perennials, bulbs, shrubs and trees all include a number of varieties that have a sweet fragrance. Some flower for several weeks at a time, while others show up for a fleeting visit. It’s worth remembering that some fragrance can come from foliage as well. Choose a diverse range to ensure there is something of interest in every season. Keep track of what you plant and when it flowers, too, so if there is a gap in fragrance, you can find more plants to provide scent at those times.
Anywhere you walk or sit has the potential to host a scented plant. Trina Woolmore of KiwiFlora suggests, “When planning your fragrant garden, highlight the best places for your most coveted fragrances – beside entranceways, surrounding outdoor entertaining areas, dotted through garden beds beside pathways, even under the clothesline!” This allows the perfume to collect and intensify in areas you frequent the most.
Plant according to fragrance strength, as well. “When using plants with a strong heady perfume, it’s best to plant in multiples and give them their own space, so they are not competing with other strong fragrances,” says Trina. “Conversely, plants with a lighter, fresher fragrance, such as herbs, tend to play nicely with each other and can be happily intermingled throughout the garden.”
“One of the pleasures of designing with fragrant plants is that many species – especially those with scented foliage, rather than heady flowers – need us to interact with them to unleash their perfumes,” says garden designer Fiona Henderson (@fhenderperson). “Brush past the velvet-soft peppermint geranium (Pelargonium tomentosum) and you’ll be rewarded with a hit of menthol, whereas its cousin, Pelargonium crispum, a quirky looking perennial with frilly, upright stalks reminiscent of fresh green curly kale, smells as good as lemon verbena if gently rubbed.”
Fiona advocates planting fragrant hedges to provide both scent and structure. “Planting hedges that offer formality and fragrance is a nifty way to get more bang for your buck, even in a small garden,” she says. “Use low hedges of English lavender or rosemary to edge paths.”
Where space is tight, such as along the sides of a narrow driveway, Fiona suggests encouraging fragrant star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) to climb over trellis or along wires to create the effect of a hedge. ‘Fairy Blush’ magnolias, previously known as michelias, also clip neatly into slender hedges.
Plant a range of scented beauties for a sweet-smelling garden to enjoy every day. Here are some of our favourites:
Annuals: Sweet peas, sweet alyssum, stock, phlox, snapdragons and verbenas.
Perennials: Chocolate cosmos, carnations, lemon balm, lemon verbena, scented geraniums, perennial phlox, rosemary and lavender.
Bulbs: Tulips, hyacinths, grape hyacinths (muscari), ‘Erlicheer’ daffodils (jonquils) and oriental lilies.
Vines: Star jasmine, clematis, pandorea, mandevilla, sweet peas and wisteria.
Shrubs and trees: Roses, lilacs, pieris, peonies, ceanothus, diosma, Mexican orange blossom (Choisya ternata), Chinese witch hazel, mock orange (Philadelphus), boronias, gardenias, daphnes, camellias, magnolias and viburnum.
Housing your fragrant plants in pots may be a better option for you. Create impact with our guide on how to style pots.
Photo credit: GAP Photos/Nicola Stocken, Anna Robinson & John Downs