This sense is given some thought, but often neglected, in garden design and by plant breeders. More emphasis is being placed on fragrance lately but it is still unfortunately all too common to stick your nose into a rose, expecting that perfume that has inspired poets to wax lyrical, but inhale nothing more than some pollen or an unsuspecting ladybird!
To get plants with unbelievable aromas one should strive to grow species plants. When selecting seeds or plants; buy those that don’t have a cultivar name – the name in quotation marks. For example, don’t buy a scentless hybrid rose because of its beautiful colour; buy a Rosa rugosa or Rosa canina. It is to be noted, however, that some cultivar plants do have fragrances, but it is not guaranteed. Some native species with floral scents include: Jasminum multipartitum (Starry Wild Jasmine) and Buddleja auriculata (Weeping Sage). It should be noted though that some fragrances are almost powerful, for example the scent of some Brugmansia flowers (Angel’s Trumpet) are considered by some societies to be a potent aphrodisiac!
Flowers though are not the only parts of a plant that can smell good. Leaves can have the most beautiful aromas. Think of the perfumes coming from the kitchen when using herbs in your cooking, the scent that can be enjoyed when brushing up against the lavender or the autumnal ‘toffee’ smell coming from the Cercidiphyllum japonicum (Katsura) as its leaves fall. Some native plants with fragrant leaves include Pelargonium species (like P. crispum and P. capitatum), Agathosmaspecies (Buchus) and Helichrysum populifolium.
Having fragrant plants in the garden is a necessity! The diversity of aromas than can be included into your garden is just overwhelming. One is really spoilt for choice! Indulge your sense of smell and discover a world of unknown delights!
How, though, does one accommodate for their sense of hearing in a garden. Read next week’s article to find some helpful advice…