fragrant peonies

Top Ten Fragrant Flowers:

  1. Gardenia
  2. Freesia
  3. Jasmine (Vine)
  4. Lavender
  5. Lilac
  6. Casablanca Lily
  7. Narcissus
  8. Orange Blossom
  9. Rose
  10. Tuberose

    ~ according to

the Wedding Channel

Four o’clock (Mirabilis jalapa) “I remember my grandparents’ property being littered with four o’clocks. As the sun would set, the air would turn sweet. Now, when I design large gardens with extra space, I always include this plant to remind us of simpler times. My clients are always surprised and fall in love with it.” ~Joseph Hillenmeyer, Lexington, Kentucky

I saw the sweetest flower wild nature yields, A fresh blown musk-Rose ’twas the first that threw Its sweets upon the summer; graceful it grew As in the wand that Queen Titania wields And, as I feasted on its fragrance, I thought the garden rose it much excelled. ~John Keats, 1795-1821.

Summer Fragrance a garden for all your senses

Fragrance is so agreeable on a summer evening that the combination of Lavandula vera and deep velvety purple petunias produce an effect I can’t be without. The varieties of petunias change so often – the ‘Blue Sails’ cultivar was a wonderful one -just look for dark purple-blue singles. Add in some ‘Coventry’ annual baby’s breath and variegated lemon thyme. The fragrance wafting towards you is blissful.

Pretty Picture Combinations

Heliotrope (again a deep purple) among the ‘Mary’ Rose edged with a white-eyed rose color petunia is lovely. Forget-me-nots, Mugo pine, Francis hosta, and Clematis Montana grow here as well. Mignonette (Reseda odorata) mixed in anywhere just for its smell-the small pale green blooms don’t really clash with anything.

Phlox, especially in lavender tints, smell heavenly.

White daisies (Shastas, or marguerites, or whatever grows well for you) with ‘Ensign’ convolvulous and golden yellow dyssodia (dahlberg daisies) spiked with ‘Victoria Blue’ salvias. No fragrance, but the blue/white/yellow colors are so cheerful in full sunshine. Spice it up with red geraniums and you have a primary palette.

Interpreted in scented flowers, the white rose ‘Blanc Double de Coubert’, Baptisia x “Twilight Prairie Blues” (False Indigo), Dames Rocket, ‘Hesperis matronalis’, hemerocallis ‘Flava’, along with Shasta daisies, would repeat the color scheme with aromatic perennial plant choices.

Sweet woodruff sends out a smell of new-mown hay, put it under roses, around lilac bushes, in woodsy plantings. Under a ‘Mariesii’ viburnum, interplanted with Scilla hispanica and botanical tulips makes a beautiful spring picture.

peony and dames rocket

Plant for the Senses

Which Summer Flowers Are the Most Fragrant?

by | Jan 26, 2015 | 0 comments

The Perfumed Garden

Clematis is a fragrant vine, and no perfumed garden should be without roses.

Certain types of gardens will have the blessed aspect of fragrance: herb beds, rose borders, spring shrubs, and spring bulb beds of hyacinths. Certainly, herb gardens by their very nature would be filled with fragrant scents, some wafting on the air, and some awaiting the accidental brush of the leaves.

Fruiting trees, such as apple, peach, and cherry, are the sweetest scents in their seasons. Gertrude Jekyll had suggestions for fruit orchards that make them a gardened place:

“The grass should be left rough, and plentifully planted with Daffodils, and with Cowslips if the soil is strong. The grass would be mown… in June, and perhaps again once more towards the end of September. …Primroses and the garden kinds of wood hyacinths and Dogtooth Violets and Lily of the Valley, and perhaps Snowdrops, or any of the smaller bulbs that most commended themselves to the taste of the master.”

The best way to find out which aroma you most enjoy and what plants truly look like in gardens is to visit arboretums and public gardens ( with a notebook and pen handy- a tiny one in your pocket will do).

A few suggested plants that I have loved: Heliotrope,  Mignonette, Apple Blossoms, ‘Fragrant Cloud’ Rose, Sweet Woodruff, Oriental lilies, Lavender, Eglantine Rose Leaves (a smell of sweet apples!)

Follow Your Nose For Fragrance

Investigating the wonderful world of aromatic plants

lavender's herbal scent

While there are certain flowers renowned for their scent, modern hybridization has sometimes bred out that asset in favor of others like blossom size, color, or other desired improvements.

This is reason enough to find and plant heirloom varieties, or go by personal experience and word of mouth advice. Old fashioned roses, sweet peas, dianthus (pinks), heritage varieties of annuals are plants to seek out for their original intensity of scent.

This summer I made the acquaintance with phlox in the most delightful way. In the still air they filled the garden with sweet perfume, and I was very cognizant of how calming that is to the mind.

Aromatherapy is more than a fad- it is healing to be drawn into breathing deeper and relaxing; and that is what such good smells convince us to do. The old fashioned purplish varieties smell the sweetest.

Certain seasons hold their own delights: think of spring lilacs, late spring peonies, summer roses, late summer oriental lilies, all give their distinctive aromatic atmosphere to the garden’s seasons.

The time of day influences the experience of the scent, and weather conditions also impact the release of the volatile oils that impress our sense of smell.

What one person finds delightful might be somewhat unpleasant to another. Flowers such as Cleome or Cimifuga are two I find unpleasant, as well as Crambe cordifolia, although I like all of them visually. I wonder, too, if the combining of scents makes a difference. Some components of a perfume are not altogether attractive on their own, but given a pairings with other notes become the depth or counterpoint of bitterness that the whole needed to become the complex recipe that we find pleasing.

Coumarin, used in perfumes, is the fragrance we perceive when brushing sweet woodruff, or passing by a new mown lawn. Oakmoss is another factor, and a woodsy area can have a fragrant atmosphere of its own. Roses are universally loved for their scent, but did you know that there are many types of rose scents to experience? From apple, to musk and balsam, clove, myrrh, and tea to delight and soothe with sweet variety.

Descriptions of “Musk” or “Lemon” are indicators of a flowers scent. Lemon thyme has always been a favorite of mine, Mimulus moschatus is called “Musk Flower”, and grape hyacinths are reminiscent of grape “musk”. It is easy to include sweet scent in a garden plan, and I have a definite bias towards a rose with a sweet aroma over one that is missing it. Something which is so much a part of the joy of living should not be missing. But that is just my opinion.

Summer Delights, Some of My Most Valued Garden Plants

honeysuckle flowers
A garden redolent of honeysuckle on a summer evening is something Midsummer dreams are made of.
I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight;~A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream

My favored variety of honeysuckle is the Lonicera periclymenum ‘Belgica’. Also wonderful is the wild “eglantine” whose leaves, under the right conditions, fill your garden with the smell of apples. ‘Halls’ variety of honeysuckle is to be avoided as a nuisance plant.

“The daintiest smell of flowers are violets, roses, woodbine (honeysuckle).” ~ Sir Francis Bacon

There are so many good roses, a few of my favorites are listed on  the roses page.

Leucojum (Giant or Summer Snowflake)

Fill with flowers

For Your garden

plant container

Modern plant container