Plant these flowers for a scented garden

Plant these flowers for a scented garden

From native fringetree to lilacs, here are the floral varieties that will reinvigorate your garden's scent.


Recently, Washington Post writer Adrian Higgins discussed the fading scent of gardens in a column. Higgins shared tips from garden book author Ken Druse on how gardeners can create fresh-smelling gardens again. Read below:

One of the delights of the autumn garden is to sit beside a sheltering hedge of the evergreen osmanthus, a holly look-alike that late in the year produces tiny white blossoms that fill the still air with a knockout perfume.

 The hidden nature of the fragrance adds to the delight of savoring the garden one last time, and it makes you yearn for ways to add more scent to the garden.

As an exercise in garden planning, assembling a bouquet of ornamental plants is harder than you might think. A shrub or perennial must jump through a number of hoops before attempting the fragrance trick. It must grow in your climate and your site conditions. It must have visual appeal, not just in its enduring blossoms but also such other traits as growth habit and foliage appeal. These considerations have taken much of the scent out of our gardens.

There are other reasons our gardens seem to have lost their fragrance. You look back at gardens full of rose bowers, wisterias, lilacs and mock orange and think earlier generations valued this sensory delight more than we do.

Veteran garden book author Ken Druse reminds me that there were at one point 150 commercial nurseries raising violets for New Yorkers, some of the violets for their simple delight but many for use as nosegays to displace the odors of a horse-drawn city.

Druse’s latest book, “The Scentual Garden,” is a reminder that the array of scented plants — tender and hardy — is bountiful.

“I’ve always been interested in fragrance,” he says, adding that the first thing we do when we get close to a flower is to see whether it smells. Three-year-olds do it, so we must be wired for flower sniffing.

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