The Fragrant Garden

Mock OrangeHere are some tips for designing a garden full of fragrance.

1. Look for heirloom varieties of plants. Breeders are usually focused on flower size or color, disease resistance or plant size and shape when they create hybrids—fragrance often falls by the wayside when they make their crosses and selections. Old-fashioned, open-pollinated varieties are therefore more apt to have a stronger scent.

2. Site scented plants near doors and windows, close to the edge of paths and adjacent to sitting areas so that their fragrance can be enjoyed easily. Plants with scented foliage, such as many herbs and scented geraniums, release their fragrance when they are brushed against, so keep these close to pathways.

3. Try to avoid placing strongly fragrant plants closer than 10 feet away from each other. If they are growing too close together, their aromas will be combined in a way that’s not necessarily pleasant. Fill the areas between your scented plants with unscented varieties.

A sampling of fragrant plants:
Most herbs (leaves)
Shrubs including daphnes, lilacs, mock oranges (shown), old-fashioned roses, gardenias, viburnums

Perennials including bearded iris, peonies, heirloom carnations and pinks (Dianthus spp.), primroses, phlox

Annuals including flowering tobacco, marigolds, sweet peas, stocks, snapdragons, sweet alyssum, heliotrope

Bulbs including daffodils, hyacinths, lilies

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One thought on “The Fragrant Garden

  1. Meghan, Thanks for putting heirloom plants at the top of your list! Tuberoses are my favorite fragrant bulbs, and although few gardeners grow them today, they were exceedingly popular from colonial days through the 1800s. For a list of all the fragrant heirloom bulbs we offer, simply enter “fragrant” in the search box at oldhousegardens.com. And happy spring! Scott

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