Our olfactory sense is fast becoming a highly recognized centre for memory generation as well as good scents giving a greater sense of well-being. When it comes to the gardens we have access to and spend our time in, the trend of planting for scent is fast climbing the list of must haves for home owners and designers alike. When we think of gardens we no longer just think of them in terms of how they look but also in terms of how they make us feel.
Much of this feeling is derived from how the garden is laid out; does it make us happy, feel safe, do we want to linger or walk briskly through it? If we linger, why do we do so? Is it because the garden has evoked a memory of times past? If so it is potentially a scent that has triggered it. Mown grass, summer rain and Roses all conjure up memories of lazy summer days when work is far from your mind and the summer seems endless. So many heady scents in the garden can take us back to happy times but there is no reason to plant solely with the past in mind. With so many fragrant plants to choose from there are many more new memories to make.
When I think of scent in the garden the first thing I think of is high summer. Those rich spiced musky fragrances that linger in the evening, Jasmine and the warm scent of herbs that have had the sun beating down on them all day but there are so many other plants that flower at different times of the year and all with equally alluring fragrances. If you plant cleverly you can easily have scent in the garden all year round, which is a great reason to entice you outside, even in the depths of winter.
Some plants to try to add scent to your summer garden :
This is when scent is at its most romantic and powerful. There are of course masses of plants to chose from but these are absolute favourites.
Philadelphus ‘Belle Etoile’ is a rangy deciduous shrub that looks not overly interesting until it is smothered in white cup shaped flowers in summer. More commonly known as Mock Orange it has the same orange blossom scent that reminds you of holidays in warmer climates. Once flowered it can be pruned but essentially this Philadelphus is a low maintenance shrub which copes very well with a wide range of soils and conditions. For scent it is a plant that is hard to beat.
Rosa ‘Falstaff’ is an old fashioned shrub rose with wonderful double cupped flowers of the darkest wine red which persist throughout the summer. Its scent is classically ‘old rose’ and being only about 1.2m tall and wide at maturity it could find a home in all but the smallest of gardens. As roses go it is fairly pest and disease resistant but if you grow roses you have to be prepared to put the time in to care for them – the rewards are well worth the effort.
Lonicera japonica ‘Halliana’ is a great plant for a sunny or part shaded location and will in milder areas retains most of its leaves during the winter. It is the flowers though that it is known for. Tubular white flowers age to cream and literally smother the plant, which can grow up to 10m in height for months on end in the summer. It is therefore best grown up a sturdy pergola or an old tree stump and will do best when mulched with well-rotted manure in the spring. It is perhaps a little bit of a martyr to aphids so watch out for these and treat accordingly.
Paeonia lactiflora ‘Festiva Maxima’ AGM is heavily scented with a sweet and musky perfume and Paeonia lactiflora ‘Duchess de Nemours’ AGM is a sumptuous white with a pale cream ruffled centre with an intoxicating lemon scent. Another great lemon-scented peony is Paeonia ‘Bartzella’ AGM which is an intersectional peony (a cross between a tree peony and an herbaceous peony) which offers huge bright yellow flowers to boot. Intersectional Peonies can be hard to track down sometimes but www.primrosehall.co.uk have a good selection worth checking out.
If you only plant one plant this year make it a scented one. Flowers and scent combine to make a garden feel much more than just a collection of plants. A scented garden entices you outside and makes you linger which for gardeners who are often too busy working in their gardens to appreciate the results of their toil is a very good reason to stop, reflect and enjoy.
About Kate Gould
Kate Gould is an award winning garden designer with more than a decade’s hands-on experience transforming gardens of all sizes and a regular exhibitor at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show where she has been awarded three Gold medals. For more garden inspiration visit www.kategouldgardens.co.uk