Plant a memory garden of fragrance

By Lynette L. Walther | May 03, 2019
Photo by: Lynette L. Walther Finally a hardy landscape rose with fragrance, 'At Last' blooms with drifts of apricot-hued flowers.

“Even if the flower is no more, still, the fragrance can be.”

Smell is of the most powerful of our senses, and fragrances are closely linked with memory, probably more so than any of our other senses. Fragrances can evoke particular people or events, bringing them back vividly, like the lavender perfume our grandmother wore or a gardenia corsage for a special dance.

And there’s little that can top flowers for fragrance that delights and lingers. Create your own memory garden of fragrance with scented flowers. Whether it is a large garden filled with blooming flowers or a container brimming with scented geraniums, when it comes to fragrant plants, the choices are many and varied. All varieties listed require full sun for optimum performance and perfume.

Rose: Think fragrance and roses are one of the first flowers that come to mind. Two new rose varieties to add to a scent garden include Rose Sweet Mademoiselle and Brindabella Roses. Sweet Mademoiselle has an exquisite fragrance that is an enticing blend of fruit and lemon. Expect abundant and continuous blooms on vigorous plants that exhibit excellent disease resistance for their type.

Brindabella Roses deliver old-fashioned scent with show-stopping flowers. These roses have a bushy growth habit, excellent disease resistance and fragrant double flowers in an array of traditional and modern colors. At Last, a new shrub rose, combines landscape rose hardiness and fragrance in delicate apricot-colored blooms. Many Rugosa varieties deliver marvelous fragrance, as do a number of heirloom roses and many of the David Austin series of English roses.

Lavender: The queen of scent, lavender-scented items have come to exemplify all things clean and wholesome. For me, the fragrance is one my own grandmother used often, and one whiff brings back her image. Perennial Blue Spear is a very showy English lavender with big, tall spikes and more upright flower stems for huge impact. It attracts bees and butterflies, while also being deer- and rabbit-resistant. English lavenders are hardy in this zone, and include varieties Munstead, Hidcote and Twinkie Purple. Grow these perennials in full sun with well-drained soil. Mulching with shells for winter protection can help ensure survival and over time will add essential nutrients.

Lily of the valley: This heirloom perennial is one of the easiest to grow of fragrant selections. Whether you choose the white or pink variety, you can rest assured that the sweet scent of those little bells will shine in a sunny border. Pick a handful for a mini-bouquet or enjoy this most hardy perennial flower in situ.

Lily: Oriental, Asiatic and Orienpet lilies can perfume an entire garden when in bloom. Fields of Gold Oriental Asiatic lily flaunts a dark edge surrounding pale yellow petals with darker yellow centers and dark accent freckles. With both varieties, watch for scarlet lily leaf beetles early in the season. The brilliant red insects will chew through foliage and buds of these perennial bulb flowers, but the insects can be hand-picked for control.

Sweet pea: There’s nothing like old fashioned sweet peas to stir nostalgia and romance. Best grown from seed, according to Renee Shepherd of Renee’s Garden Seeds: “The graceful beauty of annual sweet peas, with their ruffled blossoms, soft texture and glowing colors, makes them one of the most irresistible flowers. Their scent is an exquisite perfume of orange blossoms and honey, surely one of the most seductive of all flower fragrances. Properly planted and tended, they are carefree and easy to grow – especially in mild climate zones. Because so many varieties have been developed, sweet peas come in a symphony of soft colors and bi-colors. A generous handful of their long-stemmed winged blossoms makes a beautiful bouquet that will truly scent an entire room.”

Snapdragon: Chantilly Mix series is a real eye-catcher, with large open-faced blooms. Chantilly snapdragon mix includes shades of orange, pink, purple, white and yellow. Note that this is the Year of the Snapdragon, and what better time to enjoy the charming blooms and gentle fragrance of these annual flowers?

Herbs: Fragrance is herbs' forte. But there is one fragrant herb, sacred basil, that will stop you in your tracks with its come-hither fragrance. This annual, medicinal herb has many uses, but I like to dry the flower spikes to add to my herb tea mix.

Geranium: Scented geraniums come in a kaleidoscope of fragrances, from citrus to herbal to floral. Tender perennials, they will need to come indoors for the winter. But what better indoor companion than one with delicate fragrance and green foliage to boot? Place a pot or two of scented geraniums at the entry to your garden of fragrance for the summer, and to enjoy them all year long.

Good drainage and an alkaline growing medium make for plenty of fragrant lavenders like these at Glendarragh lavender farm in Appleton.. (Photo by: Lynette L. Walther)
(Photo by: Lynette L. Walther)
Scented geraniums are tender perennials that add delightful fragrance to the summer garden and then can bring that aroma indoors for the winter. This is the foliage of a rose-scented geranium, which has tiny, insignificant blooms. (Photo by: Lynette L. Walther)
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