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Fragrance In The Garden

Last summer, Quesnel had the wonderful opportunity to hear garden expert Brian Minter’s talk on ‘Plants for the New Millennium’. One of the points that Brian stressed was having your garden appeal to all your senses, not just your visual sense. People should be planting fragrance in the garden. As Brian Minter said, “Why just plant any old Hosta when you can choose a fragrant Hosta!”

Fragrance is not a strong trait in plants and is often lost when plants are bred for other characteristics such as colour or extended blooming time. Plant breeders do recognize the importance of fragrance and those such as David Austin (David Austin Roses) are breeding plants that retain their old fashioned scent.

Here are some suggestions of how to use fragrant plants in your garden and get back to your senses.

Hyacinthus orientalis hybrids Common Hyacinth Ht. 10” Zone 3
The fragrance will stop you in your tracks! Bulbs are available for planting in fall. Colours include blue, pink & white. Excellent for forcing.

Narcissus ‘Yellow Cheerfullness Ht. 16-18” Zone 3
These double yellow blooms burst into colour in May. Plant them in large groups for cutting.

Tulipa ‘Apricot Beauty’ Ht. 8” Zone 3
The single, soft rosy apricot blooms can perfume an entire room. Excellent for winter forcing. Early blooming tulip varieties are the most fragrant.

Daphne cneorum Rock Daphne Ht. 0.3m Sp.0.6m Zone 3
It is very hard to resist this dwarf evergreen blanketed with fragrant rosy pink spring flowers. Give this plant a light shearing after flowering to keep it in good shape.

Philadelphus coronarius ‘Aureus’ Golden Mockorange Ht. 1.2m Sp. 1m Zone 3
This plant offers fragrance, colour and a compact form. Single white flowers appear in June over the golden leaves. This mockorange will brighten up any border.

Rosa ‘Hansa’ Hansa Hardy Shrub Rose Ht. 1.5m Sp. 1.5m Zone 3
Hansa is an old favourite – the double violet red roses fill the air with a strong perfume. This hardy shrub is also attractive in fall with bright red hips and attractive foliage.

Hybrid tea roses – two of the most fragrant
Require winter protection Fragrant Cloud – breathtaking perfume fills the room on orange red double blooms Double Delight – this unique bi-coloured red and creamy white rose has award-winning fragrance.

Syringa spp. Lilacs See online catalog for a detailed look on this versatile shrub

Lonicera periclymenum ‘Belgica’ Belgica Honeysuckle Ht. 1.8m. Zone 4
A heady perfume flows from the reddish-purple flowers in May, June & again in later summer. Red berries in fall

Lavandula angustifolia ‘Munsted’ English Lavender Ht. 40cm. Zone 4-5
This aromatic, shrubby perennial makes an excellent groundcover in a dry, sunny area. The deep purple spikes that bloom from May to August are excellent for drying. This perennial has over wintered well in my garden, but the trick with lavender is a well-drained soil.

Dianthus spp. Carnations, Pinks Ht. 20cm. Sp. 30cm. Zone 2
These are sun-loving flowers that brighten up any border. The spicy perfume is found in both single and double flowers. The grassy foliage is also very attractive.

Hosta ‘Royal Standard’ Ht. 60cm. Sp. 90cm. Zone 2
Rated as the best fragrant white flowered Hosta. The rich green, deeply-veined large leaves are fairly sun-tolerant. You do need to get close to the flowers to appreciate the light perfume.

Heliotropium arborescens ‘Marine Marine Heliotrope Ht. 25cm. Sp. 30cm. Annual
The deep purple broccoli-shaped blooms are one of the best for fragrance. Grows in sun or partial shade. A must for the patio tub!

Lobularia maritima ‘Snow Crystals’ Snow Crystals Alyssum Ht. 10cm. Sp. 15cm. Annual
I make sure to edge a few of my patio tubs with alyssum. The dainty fragrant flowers cascade over the side. Alyssum will often self seed itself and looks nice between stepping stones.

Lathyrus odoratus ‘Royalty Tall Mix’ Royalty Tall Mix Sweet Pea Ht. 1.8m Annual
This annual vine must be supported by a trellis. Make sure they are watered well and you will be rewarded by that old fashioned fragrance.

Yellow Delta Pansy Annual
This bright-faced annual smells heavenly – use it in tubs, window boxes or borders.

Petunia h. ‘Sonata’ Sonata Petunia Ht. 20cm. Sp. 30cm Annual
Try this beautiful, double white petunia in your window box and let its sweet perfume waft through your house.

Nicotiana affinis ‘Tall White’ White Tobacco Flower Ht. 90cm. Sp. 25 cm Annual
Only the white Nicotiana produces a scent and can only be detected in the evening. Make sure to add these to your tubs to enjoy the fragrance when entertaining in the evening.

You can turn your garden into a real sensory experience by using fragrant plants in strategic areas – near the entrance, in window boxes and in patio tubs. I have only touched on fragrant flowers, but don’t forget about aromatic foliage. Plants like Lemon Scented Geranium, Rosemary, Marjoram, and Thyme will also bring you to your senses.

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