A still, warm evening is a special time to relax in your garden — this is when many plants are at their most fragrant, and sitting in the barmy air surrounded by their perfume is more “feel good” than a session of aromatherapy. Fragrance should be a major consideration when you’re choosing plants for your garden. Exotic fragrances wafting from the subtle oils of many flowers create a special mood in the garden — think romance or a garden party — or merely delighting the gardener! Spectacular and deliciously scented, many of the following plants can be planted where you pass by, sit and entertain, or in containers framing entrances, to introduce those rosy, minty, lemony, spicy and supremely satisfying scents into your garden.
No fragrant garden should be without a strongly scented honeysuckle climbing over a wall, or trailing over an arbour, or a bushy clump of pineapple sage, or a group of flowering lilies — they all smell good enough to eat. Pineapple sage is a hardy shrub which will grow to 1.8x1metre. The light green deciduous foliage has a distinctive pineapple scent and flavour. They prefer full sun and a light soil, and plenty of water during the hotter months. When the foliage dies back in late autumn cut plants to ground, and propagate by dividing the dense root system.
Chocolate cosmos (Cosmos atrosanguineus) grows to 60cm in height, with a spread of 30cm. Clump forming and frost tender, it dies back at the onset of cold weather. On warm days the dark, reddish-brown flowers have an appealing chocolate scent with hints of caramel — a chocoholic’s delight.Both the leaves and flowers of bergamot (Monarda didyma) are spicy and highly aromatic. Not only a decorative garden plant, it is also used for flavouring teas, such as Earl Grey and English afternoon tea. A favourite with bees, bergamot likes full sun or part shade, and a fertile, moist, well drained soil. You can increase stock by dividing established plants in late autumn when they have died back after the first frosts.
The spicy-sweet, heady perfume of the hybrid lily (Lilium ‘Casablanca’) is intense. It grows up to 1.8 metres, and can produce up to 20 pure white, trumpet shaped flowers on a single stem. Plant your bulbs shallowly in a well drained, sandy soil in full sun or part shade. A pot or two of these beautiful bulbs at the entrance to your house or garden are a real delight in late summer.
Lathyrus odoratus ‘Cupanii’ is an old fashioned, highly fragrant sweet pea — a massed planting can scent a large area of the garden with a heady, sweet perfume. The creamy-flowered mignonette is another old-fashioned plant with a strong, sweet fragrance — position by your back door to appreciate its exceptional perfume, particularly on warm, sunny days. Like the rose and the musky-scented dianthus, mignonette is used in perfumery and pot-pourri.
For a real perfume-blast at the end of your day plant a clump of night scented stock. Barely detectable by day (the pastel-coloured flowers appear wilted), it dominates and transforms the night garden with a glorious, sweet fragrance.