Many homeowners plan their summer gardens based on visuals— colors, size, and foliage—but neglect the sense of smell. The fragrance your garden creates can add so much to the overall experience! Some fragrant flowers are also great for cutting and indoor bouquets, to being the outside indoors.
Depending on your climate zone, you can plant scent-producing flowers that perfume the days or the nights, bloom early in the season, throughout the summer, or into the fall. Here are some sweet smelling options for your fragrant garden:
Lavender — A hardy fragrant plant that swells the breezes in Provence with its delicate scent. It thrives in well-drained soil and sunny locations. Available in many different types, mixed in with other perennials or planted along a front walk to perfume your entryway. Lavender also can be dried successfully for sachets and decorations in the colder seasons.(right)
Sweet Alyssum – A low-growing, fragrant flowering plant that is available in several pretty colors. Alyssum only reaches six inches high and grows to about a foot wide. It works well as a border, in rock gardens, or in small pots or window boxes.
Heliotrope – A richly scented cluster of tiny flowers available in purple, pink and white, heliotrope provides scents compared to vanilla, cherry pie and grapes. (pictured left)
Nicotiana – A relative of tobacco, nicotiana features fuzzy leaves and white, star shaped trumpet. This plant is best if sourced from old-fashioned varieties. The blooms produce a strong, sweet fragrance at night. A hardy perennial, this fragrant plant will last for many years, and is known for attracting hummingbirds. (right)
Silver Artemisia — Featuring white flowers and silvery foliage, these night bloomers are best enjoyed by moonlight.
Evening Stock – This plant’s small petalled lavender or white flowers, and relatively low stature belie a rewarding evening perfume, comparable to spice, vanilla, or roses. This night flower is easy to grow from seeds and requires little maintenance.(left)
Roses – The empress of the garden, roses provide beautiful color, variety and in many cases beautiful scent. Roses can be challenging to grow, so check with your local garden center for hardy, scented types to start with. (right)
Peonies – A hardy perennial, peonies are the early summer show-stoppers with large, fragrant blooms in a multitude of colors. Peony tubers are planted in the late summer or fall, then regenerate late spring into lush leafy plants with large (4-6 inches) blooms, in both single and double configurations. Peonies can require wire cages for support as the blooms tend to be top-heavy. The cages are insert into the grounds just as the foliage starts to appear, then guided through the grid to support the blooms. (bottom left)
Oriental Lilies – These large and colorful flowers can perfume an entire garden on their own. With waxy, lush petals, riotous colors and multiple blossom stems, Lilies can be quite rewarding. (bottom right)
These options are just a few of the many varieties of flowers known for their fragrance. When shopping for seeds, plants or tubers, make sure to ask whether the variety is scented. Many newer hybrids are not scented, but concentrate their beauty on colors.