Sweet Smelling Scented Garden
A garden full of sweet odours is a garden full of charm, a most precious kind
of charm not to be implanted by mere skill in horticulture or power of purse,
and which is beyond explaining. It is born of sensitive and very personal
preferences yet its appeal is almost universal.”
– Louise Beebe Wilder
The first flower scent I fell in love with was the lilac. In my twenties I rented an old farmhouse that had a hedge of lilacs right beside the kitchen door. Every May I would cut branches, fill vases and put them in every room. Smelling them always evoked some childhood memory and filled me with warmth and a smile that nothing else could match. My mother grew up in the south and her favorite was the Gardenia. Each time I inhale their heavenly scent, I feel she is beside me. The other day in our garden my daughter picked a bouquet of clover and asked me to smell it. I was so glad I took the time to oblige her because to my surprise and delight I truly for the first time understood what the bees have known all along. Clover is very sweet and makes a lovely honey. Scents in the garden are intoxicating and magical. They are carried with the wind and can linger a lifetime in our thoughts. This month let’s explore the fragrant garden. Let’s recall our childhood memories, nurture them and create new one’s to last forever.
Perfumes are the feelings of flowers.
– Heinrich Heine
Planning the Scented Garden
I love the idea of always having something in bloom in a garden. With each season comes a new treasure to behold. I have created a table of fragrant plants that work well here in the lowcountry. There are a few exceptions. Daphne can be quite finicky but well worth trying for its sweet citrus fragrance in the winter. Tea Olives can struggle near the coast. I tend to put one close to a deck or entry, yet inconspicuous. This way, the fragrance is noticed but not the plant. These plants are very fragrant. They are not meant to be used as a hedge. Although I enjoy Tea Olives, A hedge surrounding a deck can be overwhelming.
Fragrant plants can easily be worked in to your garden no matter what the size. A few Butterfly Gingers in the shade, a wisteria or confederate jasmine on a tree, a Gardenia and a Daphne, and your seasons would be complete. Container gardening for the senses is also fun. Angel Trumpets, Citrus, scented geraniums and herbs such as rosemary and mint all make lovely potted plants.
Some plants are fragrant only at night and my favorite in this category is the night blooming jasmine. It is sort of a sprawling vining shrub that has small white flowers that only open at night. The fragrance is sweetly perfumed and many people question the origin of the aroma and are always surprised that the one lone jasmine in a pot on my deck has produced such an intoxicating redolence.
I invite you this month to add a fragrant plant to your garden. Relive a pleasant memory, enliven your senses and enjoy this special gift from nature.
“Take time to smell the roses.”
Seasons in the Scented Garden
Spring Summer Fall Winter
Gardenia x x
Magnolia x x
Elaeagnus x x
Tea Olive x x
Banana Shrub x
Sweet Autumn Clematis x
Jasmine x x x
Lonicera x x
Roses x x x
( rugosa and damask are the best)
Butterfly Gingers x x
Angel Trumpet x x
Lilies (especially ‘Stargazer’) x
Sweet Alyssum x x
Night Scent Bloomers
Night blooming jasmine x x
Four-o’clocks x x x
Rosemary, Lavender, Scented Geraniums, Lemon Grass, Mint
Most of these plants can be found at our local nurseries. Four-o’clocks are easy to start from seed and are readily available. I planted freesias from bulbs which I obtained from Van Bourgondien, (www.dutchbulbs.com). I recommend the Antique Rose Emporium, (www.antiqueroseemporium.com), for roses. They are an excellent source for those old varieties that I believe surpass the new hybridized cultivars for scent.