Every gardener loves a fragrant flower, be it spicy, musky or sweetly scented. With careful selection, you can design and plant a flower garden to provide special scents and aromas to appreciate and enjoy from spring all the way through fall. Plant these in a concentrated area as a fragrant theme garden or intersperse them throughout your garden for special fragrant interludes as you pass by.
Early Spring Flowers with Fragrance
In early spring, you will be thrilled at the sight – and scent – of fragrant early blooming minor bulbs including Iris reticulata, Siberian squill and grape hyacinths. Add a few specially fragrant daffodils such as Thalia. And definitely plant the traditional large flowered and strongly scented hyacinths by your front door.
Fragrant Carpet of Flowers in Shade
Springtime in the woodland garden or shaded area offers the wafting scent of ground covering lily of the valley, sweet violets, or a carpet of sweet woodruff. (Tips on Shade Garden Design)
Sweet Scents: Sweet Alyssum and the Best Sweet Peas
The word sweet applies to many fragrant flowers including the annual sweet alyssum and the all time favorite among floral scents, sweet peas. When you purchase your sweet pea seeds, be aware some are more fragrant than others. Be sure the label indicates you are getting a particularly fragrant variety, of which there are many.
Fragrant Roses, Lilacs, Peonies, Lavender
As spring progresses, you will find the air perfumed by lilacs, peonies and roses. Soon lavender and lavandin join the symphony of scents. Some roses will continue blooming throughout the season to provide an ongoing source of fragrant delight. Can you imagine a summer evening perfumed by the roses?
Flowers Fragrant at Night
Many flowers are most strongly scented in the evening. For example, this includes the aptly named night scented stock plus nicotiana, four o’clocks, and the inimitable moonflower vine which along with the nicotiana and four o’clocks will bloom long into the fall.
Favorite Fragrant Perennials
Among perennials favored for fragrance, you must plant the spicily scented dianthus for bloom from spring into summer. Don’t miss scented iris cultivars such as “Royal Storm,” “Scented Bubbles,” “Vanity,” or “Midnight” and specially fragrant daylilies such as “Siloam Double Classic,” “Hyperion,” “Chorus Line,” and “Raspberry Candy.” For a shady garden be sure to grow fragrant hostas such as “Honeybells,” “Fragrant Bouquet,” “Fragrant Blue,” “Heaven Scent,” “So Sweet,” “Aphrodite,” and “Royal Standard” along with the species, H. plantaginea.
Late Summer Flowers for Fragrance
Phlox are in a class of their own when it comes to fragrance and the border phlox will bloom from summer into the fall if deadheaded, fed and watered. Late summer bloomers with strong fragrance also include the exotic and heady tuberose which is not winter hardy but is still worth growing even if you need to replace it every year. Naked ladies or Lycoris squamigera, a moderately hardy bulb, is another wonderful scented late summer bloomer with lovely spidery pink flowers atop long thin bare stems.
Well Loved Smells of Fall
Although it is a flowering vine, I must mention sweet autumn clematis or Clematis terniflora, its infinite numbered white starry flowers intensely fragrant and so welcome in the fall garden. One fragrance to avoid in the fall garden is that of burning leaves; for the sake of your flowers (and air quality), compost your leaves instead of consigning them to the burn pile.
Last but not least, remember to use plants with aromatic foliage such as lemon verbena, scented geraniums, and herbs such as basil, rosemary and lavender. Some are best grown underfoot between step stones where passers by will crush the foliage and release the scent. For this purpose, a favorite plant is creeping thyme.
Design for Fragrance and Blooms All Season
I hope this gives you inspiration and ideas for designing and planting a garden full of heady fragrance, sweet perfume, and spicy aromas to please the nose – and the eye – all through the growing season.