Fragrant gardens

Dwarf Korean lilac
Plants that have attractive and colourful flowers, which are also scented, provide an exciting and delightful aspect to any garden. The rewards: fragrances that can range from the extremely potent to the subtle.

The diversity of plants with scented flowers is extensive and enables designers to create gardens using plants with form, texture, colour and size. Plants can be strategically positioned close to windows, patios, decks and walkways to maximize their aromatic and soothing charms.

Plants with fragrant flowers are not limited to one specific group and can include standard and grafted trees; broadleafed evergreens; shrubs; vines; ground covers; roses; perennials; annuals; and spring and summer bulbs.

Woody plants:

Korean Spice viburnum (Viburnum Carlesii)
A slow growing dense rounded shrub with stiff upright spreading branches, the leaves of the Korean Spice viburnum are a dark, dull green with a hairy upper leaf surface. Pink buds open to a heavily scented creamy white flower cluster, which is produced in mid-May. It prefers well-drained, slightly acidic soil and can be grown in full sun to light shade. Prune after flowering. Ideally planted close to a patio or window to enjoy the full fragrance of the flowers.

Dwarf Korean lilac (Syringa meyeri 'Palibin')
This is a handsome lilac with small, profuse violet-purple flowers, which are very fragrant and appear before the leaves. Available as a shrub or grafted tree, this small densely mounded shrub of 1.25 metres likes full sun and well-drained, slightly acidic soils. Prune after flowering. Perfect plant for use in shrub border with an evergreen background or as a small specimen tree.

Rose daphne (Daphne cneorum)
A low-spreading dwarf evergreen shrub with dark green leaves, rose daphne's bright rosy-pink fragrant flowers smother the foliage in April and May, and often flowers appear again in September. Prefers a well-drained moist, sandy soil with a pH of six to seven. Best planted in spring in full sun or very light shade. Prune annually after flowering. Cover with pine boughs and mulch for the winter. Perfect in front of an evergreen border, in a rock garden or near a deck or patio.

Korean Spice viburnum

Japanese Pieris

Carolina allspice
Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia)
An upright, rounded, dense, leafy, mid-sized shrub, which flowers in July and August, Summersweet likes moist, acidic soils supplemented with organic matter, and tolerates shade or full sun. Fragrant flowers are white, upright spires. Prune in early spring. Excellent for shrub borders.

Henry's Garnet sweetspire (Itea virginica 'Henry's Garnet')
This is an upright shrub with erect, clustered branches with bright green leaves, which change to a scarlet-crimson fall colour. The dense, upright and lightly fragrant flower spires are borne in June-July on this mid-sized shrub. Plant in full sun or shade in moist, fertile soil. An interesting shrub, 'Henry's Garnet' retains its leaves late into the autumn and is valued for its flowers at a time when few are in bloom. Makes a good container plant and can be used in the shrub border, in wet areas of the garden or for naturalizing.

Butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii)
Butterfly bush is a large, arching herbaceous shrub with grey to blue-green foliage. The fragrant, long, upright or nodding panicles of lilac-purple-white flowers are borne in August and September. Plant in full sun in well-drained fertile soil for contrast in a shrub or perennial planting, or in mass plantings. Early spring pruning promotes vigorous growth and larger flowers. Attractive to butterflies. Several varieties are available.

Other scented options:
Silverberry (Elaeagnus commutata)
Kentucky coffeetree (Gymnocladus dioicus)
Witch hazel (Hammamelis), many varieties
Drooping laurel (Leucothoe fontanesiana)
Common privet (Ligustrum vulgare)
Winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima)
Magnolia, many varieties
Oregon grape holly (Mahonia aquifolium)
Flowering crab (Malus), many varieties
Mock orange (Philadelphus), many varieties
Japanese Pieris, at left (Pieris japonica)
Cherry (Prunus), many varieties
Golden currant (Ribes aureum)
Rose acacia (Robinia hispida)
Japanese pagoda tree (Sophora japonica 'Regent')
Lilac (Syringa), most varieties
Basswood (Tilia americana)
Littleleaf linden (Tilia cordata)
Silver linden (Tilia tomentosa)
Viburnum, many varieties

Plants with fragrant flowers:
Allegheny serviceberry (Amelanchier laevis)
Fountain butterfly bush (Buddleia alternifolia)
Carolina allspice, at left (Calycanthus floridus)
Blue mist (Caryopteris x clandonensis)
White fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus)
Yellowwood (Cladrastis lutea)
Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia)
Pink summersweet (Clethra alnifolia 'Pink Spires')
Washington hawthorne (Crataegus phaenopyrum)
Daphne, many varieties

Annuals with fragrant flowers:
Nemesia (Nemesia fruticans)
Snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus)
Lavender (Lavendula species)
Dianthus (Dianthus species)
Helitrope (Helitrope arbroescens)

Images courtesy Glen Lumis

Fragrant Gardens