Create a Spring and Summer Garden that smells as good as it looks!
Everyone loves sweet peas - their perfume is so evocative. It may bring back memories of childhood gardens and grandparents; or visiting or even working in a favourite garden... Scent seems to stay in the memory forever; capable of recalling times and events with a clarity that is almost unmatched by our other senses.
Choosing plants by colour is second nature to most gardeners but choosing by scent can be just as rewarding. Sweet peas (Lathyrus), Sweet violets (viola odorata) and lily of the valley (convallaria) are essential on any scented plant list for spring. So are hyacinths and sweet smelling daffodils and narcissi.
When summer arrives there are Jasmines, honeysuckles (Lonicera), roses, clove scented pinks and carnations (Dianthus), and gloriously fragrant stocks (Matthiola). Alyssum (now Lobularia) also smells strongly of freshly spread honey!
Nicotiana (Tobacco Plants) is most highly perfumed at night to attract moths to pollinate the tubular flowers. Choose a well-scented modern hybrid such as Malibu Mixed if you want blooms that stay open all day and still smell fantastic!
If you are buying or sowing tobacco plants for their scent alone consider the tall white or purple ones (nicotiana affinis). They can reach a metre tall and certainly smell amazing but they do have a habit of closing their blooms during the day. One way round this is to grow them in a shady spot in the garden. At twilight they really come into their own with a profusion of white stars that shine out of the gloom!
Nemesias are often highly perfumed with a distinctive sweet smell that can easily fill the garden and some begonias can also be sweetly scented. Purple petunias often have a scent even when other colours of the same varieties are unscented.
Less obvious plants such as pansies and violas are often surprisingly fragrant; it's a good idea to site them somewhere where their perfume can be appreciated close too. Use them to fill a wall basket at head height or a plant them into a pot on a patio table where the flowers can waft their perfume nearer to your nose!
When in doubt take a big sniff- and then make notes of your favourite scented flowers and plants. Make a plan to create a garden that smells as good as it looks!