Picture this, a beautiful English country garden in the height of summer with butterflies fluttering and bees a-buzzing. Sounds heavenly doesn’t it? Add to that the joy that a beautiful scent can bring and your garden can be as indulgent and romantic as you would like it to be.
It’s not that difficult to recreate this beautiful scene in your own garden, you just need to choose your flowers carefully and plant in abundance! So if you have been wondering which flowers are best for a scented garden or even which flowers are best for a small garden, you are in the right place!
In England we are fortunate that we have a (not always welcome) mix of sunshine and showers, the perfect conditions for a healthy garden, particularly in the late spring to summer period. We have had a little think about those flowers that will grow well in the UK and produced a list of ten plants to get you started – these will provide an additional layer of pleasure whilst spending time in your garden, and help your garden smell out of this world.
Our number one choice would absolutely have to be roses. Who doesn’t love the scent of an English rose? It may not surprise you but roses are one of the broadest groups of plants with an outstanding range of colours and fragrances. So whether you opt for a patio rose, climber, hybrid tea rose or shrub rose; usually on the label that accompanies the plant, it will indicate the degree of fragrance. Your choice will be either delicate fragrance, medium fragrance or strong fragrance. Now from a personal opinion we would recommend that you opt for the strongest fragrance as there is nothing better than getting outside and smelling the roses. Although of course, if a particular style or colour of rose takes your fancy this might be the deal breaker. We adore the fact that you can choose your rose to be any shade of colour from the brightest of white to the most beautiful chocolatey shade of brown, with anything from pinks, yellows, oranges, reds, mauves and any shades of those in between! The world is literally your oyster!
“I hate the smell of sweet peas.” Said no one, ever. Sweet peas smell so sweet and divine and even better, the more you cut them, the more flowers your plant will produce for you, so you can have fresh cut flowers in your home all summer long! The flowers look really beautiful too! Sweet peas can grow to a height of approximate 2 metres, just make sure you give them something to grow up. Annual sweet peas have that delicious sweet perfumed scent, whereas everlasting peas will come back every year but tend to be unscented.
Lavender’s blue, Dilly, Dilly, lavender’s green. When I am king, Dilly, Dilly, you shall be queen. Sorry, couldn’t resist popping that song inside your head for the rest of the day. Lavender prefers a sunny position – plant around the edges of your paths and patios for an outstanding waft of that unforgettable fragrance every time you brush past. Opt for delightfully fragrant varieties, such as Hidcote or Folgate, for a heightened sensory experience. Your lavender should flower every year but is best cut back after flowering to keep it tidy. Ensure that you don’t cut back to the woody stems, however, as new growth will not be produced on these stems.
Grow heavenly honeysuckle up arches, gateways, fences or pergolas for a stunning display and a beautiful perfume. These can be chosen in many stunning colours options too, just ensure that the one you choose is scented. Honeysuckle produces berries after flowering, which will attract birds to your garden. Please note that the berries are poisonous to humans and parts of the plant are poisonous to dogs so we recommend this with caution.
Delicate jasmine again can be grown up fences, arches, gateways and pergolas and will provide a stunning display with its pretty little flowers. Jasmines are available in evergreen or deciduous varieties and a choice of most commonly white or yellow flowers, although there are varieties available in pink or red too. Jasmines will need a sturdy support and some varieties are not self-clinging so will need to be tied to the support they are climbing up. Winter jasmine will give you a pop of sunny yellow to brighten your garden throughout the winter months.
Lilac has a very sweet heady smell that lingers in the air. You can choose from a variety of shades of lilac from white through to dark purple and conveniently you can grow lilac as either a shrub or a small tree, in the pot or in the ground; dwarf varieties are also available. Expect flowers to appear between May and July.
Hyacinths (ok technically these are for early spring scent but we couldn’t leave them out!) These must be one of the most distinctive smelling flowers and can be grown from bulb. Although perfect for outside, these can also be grown inside in pots for a houseful of natural perfume. Please be aware that hyacinth bulbs (as well as tulip bulbs) are highly toxic to dogs and cats so they would be best planted in an area that your pets can not get access to.
Wisteria produces a beautiful scent, as well as looking glorious adorning a wall or arch with beautiful hanging blooms and trailing leaves. Wisteria loves full sun so will be happiest on a south facing wall. When planting a new wisteria plant, don’t be disappointed if your plant does not flower for the first few years – this is completely normal but once it is established you may find that your wisteria will flower twice throughout the year. Wisteria needs careful pruning, you can find step-by-step instructions of how to prune wisteria here Gardeners World – How to prune wisteria
Gillyflowers (or gilliflowers) include stocks which are used abundantly in flower arrangements for their beautiful tall stems and unmistakably perfumed aroma. You will find stocks in pinks, whites shades of purple. The tall stems lend themselves amazingly to cottage garden borders and will product a stunning display throughout the summer. This flower group also includes carnations and pinks which are traditional cottage garden favourites.
Finally, but by no means least and this is probably fairly obvious, most herbs that you plant will produce an aromatic scent to the air, particularly when cut or brushed against. Examples that are strong scented include rosemary (which can be grown as quite a large shrub and has pretty purple flowers) as well as easy to grow mint and chives – with beautiful pink or flowers too.) Of course you could also plant some wild garlic for a really aromatic experience. These plants will also attract many butterflies and bees to your garden. Situate herbs close to a seating area, or perhaps by your back door or window for a waft of loveliness.
Hopefully this guide has helped you to discover some plants and flowers that you can easily add to your garden to help create a beautiful and serene space for you to enjoy. Positioning these fragrant plants near to areas that you regularly walk past or sit in will enhance the wonderful atmosphere of your garden even more. Whether you have a small garden, a balcony or a large rambling space, there is always room for fragrance. Think about it, as well as being aesthetically pleasing (think chocolate box cottages) there is a reason for those roses around the front door!