Planning a fragrant garden is one of my key factors when choosing plants. I find smell such a evocative sense, and there is nothing like relaxing in the garden in the evening with a glass of wine, with the scent of flowers filling your nostrils and the sound of bees buzzing gently. Fragrance has the power to alter our emotions and bring back memories in a way that no other sense quite manages, and it’s something that I’m very mindful of when choosing plants for our garden.
Highly fragranced plants are the perfect choice to be planted near a seating area, where you’ll get the most enjoyment from them and can really experience them at their best. Another great spot is under a window, where the scent can carry indoors, or by a path, where you’ll brush past them, releasing their scent as you go.
With a bit of research and planning you can ensure that you have a range of scent in your garden throughout spring and summer, by choosing different fragranced plants which will take over as the previous star of the show dies back. Here are my favourite fragrant plants for you to consider – I’ve planted lots of these and I love the journey through fragrance it takes us on through the year.
Hyacinths (hyacinth orientales) bloom at the start of spring and have such a strong scent that you can’t miss them. I find it overpowering in the house, but in the garden it’s far more pleasing. They come in shades of blue, white, pink, yellow, and purple, and are a wonderful way to introduce early scent into your garden. Blooming in March / April
Wisteria is a true stunner! It’s a fantastic climber so is perfect for positioning near a seating area, climbing over a pergola, or growing along a fence or a wall. The fragrance is distinctive and one of my favourites. Blooming in late April / early May.
Lilac is one of my favourite scents in the garden – it’s heady and very distinctive. It’s a very short lived bloomer, and tends to flower for only 2 weeks of the year, but the wonderful scent means that it’s well worth a spot in your garden. Blooming mid-late May.
Honeysuckle has to be the perfect choice for a climber near a patio or bench, where you’ll really be able to sit and enjoy the sweet scent. We are lucky that both our neighbours have grown honeysuckle on the fences by our patio, so we get to enjoy it without any of the hard work. It’s also a long bloomer, and will give you flowers throughout the summer from May onwards.
Jasmine is another climber, so a wonderful choice for a pergola or a trellis along a fence. I’ve planted a beautiful jasmine over an archway in our garden, and although it’s had a difficult start in life after a couple of floods, it’s now doing really well, and the smell wafting across our patio is divine. I love the delicate pink flowers too, it’s a real eye catched when it’s in bloom (but I have to say, not the most attractive through autumn, winter and early spring!). Blooming in summer.
Every garden should have a rose – I really do think the scent is just heavenly! And there’s a rose for every garden, whether you want a climber, a standard rose, a shrub rose, or if you need a rose which will tolerate partial shade. Research varieties carefully as some are more fragrant than others, and you may find that you prefer the scent of certain varieties. Our garden doesn’t have many spots that get enough sun for roses, so we have 2 Gertrude Jekyll roses, which require less sun than other varieties and have a beautiful strong fragrance. Blooming in summer.
Surely the most famous fragrant plant out there! We visit the lavender fields every year and I love that strong scent that comes from those purple flowers. Our garden isn’t the most suitable for lavender, as the soil tends to be a bit damp in our back garden, but we have a fabulous lavender hedge in our front garden, which is such a lovely scent to welcome you home. Make sure you have excellent drainage and plenty of sun and lavender should do well for you. I prefer English lavender myself, but if you go for French lavender, be aware that they’re not always winter hardy in this country, so you may need to give them some protection in winter, or accept that they may not make it through. Blooming in summer.