Grow A Scented Garden

Using plants with scented flowers, leaves and stems adds another reason to go outside, even on the hottest days. Of course, we think of Lilacs, Mockorange, Roses, and Flowering Tobacco but there are so many more that add to the experience of being out in the yard, on a patio, or in public gardens. 

Many annual, perennial, woody and herbaceous plants call out to be touched. It is irresistible to reach out and touch Basil, Borage, Lavender, and Parsley, or, to stop and smell Pine, Mint,  Jasmine, Rosemary, Alyssum, Dianthus, and Thyme.  And, the scent of spring bulb flowers such as Hyacinths, Daffodils and Fritillaria all make us bend to their height.

Several scented plants bloom only at night and are pollinated by moths. Datura is a favorite because it begins to unfurl late in the afternoon and will bloom while you stand there for a few minutes. 

The visually impaired and children are drawn to a scented garden. Sometimes new hybrids of old fashioned plants lack the deep fragrance of the flowers from our memories. Nicotiana, Flowering Tobacco,  and Heliotrope have new hybrids with larger flowers but very little scent. Look for seeds from heirloom seed companies such as Seedsavers.org.

Plants with aromatic leaves can also add depth to your walk around the yard in the evening. The aromatic essential oils are released when you brush by them or crush a leaf between your fingers. These have scent: Boxwood, Spicebush (Lindera benzoin),  Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana),  Pawpaw (Asimina triloba), Wax Myrtle (Myrica cerifera),  Sassafrass, Citrus, and Eucalyptus.

Scent from flowers evolved to attract pollinators so the fruiting cycle could continue. Plants such as Skunk Cabbage and Arum use offensive odors to attract their specialized pollinators, flies.

Plant scented shrubs, flowers and herbs on a pathway and in containers where you sit or walk. A collection of scented Geraniums could include: Lemon, rose, licorice, chocolate, Citronella, etc. Mountainvalleygrowers.com offers 20 scented Geranium varieties.

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