9 plants to bring fragrance and style into your garden
Updated: Jul 3
Having spent so much time outside these last weeks, I’ve come to realise the importance of fragrance in our garden, especially in the evening.
Fragrance brings a new dimension to a garden by tickling another sense.
Bertie and I been doing lots of sniffing (not the hayfever kind) around our garden and it's given us such a thrill.
In this post I have put together some simple tips for getting the most out of a fragrant garden, as well as selected nine of my favourite sweet smelling plants to cover all seasons.
4 considerations to pack a fragrant punch in your garden
Grow your scented plants in a sheltered area, so the fragrance is contained and can linger in the air for maximum impact.
Suitable locations to plant your scented plants include an enclosed courtyard, a walled garden, under an arch, or near your outdoor dining area.
For smaller scented plants, try positioning them in pots near your front or back door, so you can capture their scent regularly when passing.
Scented flowers are available year-round, so don’t just focus on planting them for the warmer months. Winter plants such as hyacinths and lily of the valley work brilliantly as cut flowers, so bring their delicious scents indoors. It’s incredibly uplifting to be greeted by fragrant flowers when the days are so short and dark.
9 of my favourite fragrant plants to buy for your garden
Unfairly associated with old ladies talcum powder, I think the scent of lavender is one of my favourites.
It’s aromatic, oily and so distinctive. I also love the colour.
Lavender is easy to grow and works brilliantly in a container, in a border or on either side of a path.
2. Mock Orange
I only just discovered this fragrance in the last week or so, and it’s a knockout.
As the ‘mock’ in the name implies, mock orange is not a true orange tree, but its citrussy blooms are reminiscent of orange blossom.
The flowers are delicate and pretty, but need pruning as soon as the scented blooming period is over.
3. Sweet Peas
They really are the gift that keeps giving. The more you pick, the more they grow, and they smell DELICIOUS. It’s hard to describe their scent, but to me their smell represents the essence of English summer. They smell of sunshine and rain and are delicious. I think this ‘almost black’ variety is amazing, and I’ll be investing in some seeds next year.
In my opinion roses should smell of roses. We all have the natural instinct to smell a bunch of roses, but sadly the commercially grown roses you buy in supermarkets often carry no scent at all. To make up for this, plant as many fragrant roses in your garden as space will allow.
One of my favourite body creams of all time was scented with jasmine, and then the brand discontinued the line. I was heartbroken! Despite this loss, I am not alone in loving the sweet scent of jasmine. It reminds me of hot summers sitting outside and enjoying life.
Jasmine plants are climbers with twining stems which often require support. They have small star shaped flowers that are usually white or yellow. For best results plant jasmine somewhere sunny, warm and sheltered to enjoy their fragrance.
6. Tobacco Plant
I know. I know. The name is off putting, but unlike the stale stench of a heavy smoker’s sofa, a tabacco plant’s fragrance is intoxicating. Tobacco plants are garden gems, but watch out, they are fragile so only really work as annuals (code for: they won’t grow again next year!).
Two fun facts: 1. They are said to contain more nicotine than smoking tobacco (don’t try that at home) and 2. the sticky resin on their leaves is said to attract and trap mosquitoes.
7. Viburnum x Bodnantense ‘Dawn’
It really is a bit of a mouthful to say, and quite an effort to remember its name, but REMEMBER Viburnum x Bodnantense!
This hardy shrub brings much needed colour and fragrance to a winter garden. It flowers from November until March. Buy a flowering plant and plant out in September or October, then you will be good to go for the winter ahead.
The flowers work well as cut stems to bring indoors.
8. Lily of the Valley
Lily of the valley are nodding bells of gloriousness. Despite their delicate frame, they reign supreme with their powerful fragrance.
Brides often include them in spring bouquets as their fragrance permeates throughout the day.
Grow lily of the valley in well drained soil and in dappled shade. Once established they spread beautifully.
If only their blooming season wasn’t so short lived, but wisteria is a joy to behold for a few weeks in April and May.
I wrote extensively about Wisteria in another post, so I won’t ramble on here, other than to say that the musky scent of wisteria is just as gorgeous as its generous racemes (the posh name for the cascading blooms).
Now you know that a garden is not just about looks. It needs to smell as good as it looks! Make sure you include fragrant plants in your scheme. You won't regret it.