From the delicate perfume of roses to the heady exoticism of jasmine, having a few sweet smelling flowers in your garden can really lift the spirits. It’s a good idea to put fragrant plants near seating areas or paths so you can appreciate them as you walk by or over a morning coffee or evening drink. Here are a few of my favourite scented plants from spring to summer:
For spring flowers, Osmanthus x burkwoodii is a fab rounded shrub with small dark evergreen leaves and a mass of tiny white sweet smelling flowers in April and May. Another gorgeous shrub I’d love in my garden is Viburnum x burkwoodii, which has clusters of white vanilla-scented flowers opening from pink buds, in April and May.
A little later comes Lilac (Syringa) – beautiful right now, with its heavenly blousy blossom in a range of purples and white. Syringa vulgaris are the most perfumed varieties – I like S. ‘Mme Lemoine ‘ which has highly fragranced white flowers. For smaller gardens or containers, dwaf varieties such as S. ‘Red Pixie’ are good. Syringa meyeri ‘Palibin’ is another compact variety with lilac flowers.
Choisya such as C. dewitteana ‘Aztec Pearl’ are useful, neat, evergreen shrubs, which are covered in fragrant white flowers in early summer. Philadelphus (mock orange) are deciduous shrubs that smell amazing. They can get big, but P. ‘Belle Etoile’ is a compact variety, with highly fragrant white flowers in June and July. Divine!
For early season, wisteria with its spectacular scented spring flowers in pale purples and white is a show -stopper. It needs a large wall to climb up or along, and pruning.
Star jasmine, Trachelospermum jasminoides, with its glossy evergreen leaves and mass of star shaped white flowers is a slow growing, low maintenance jasmine, perfect for London gardens. The common Jasminum officinalis is deciduous and can get woody but it pumps out a heady aroma, especially on warm evenings. Honeysuckle also releases its exotic, fruity scent in the evening. The late flowering Lonicera periclymenom ‘Serotina’ has gorgeous cream and dark red flowers.
Perennials and annuals
For a spring garden, biennial wallflowers (Erysimum) smell amazing – E. ‘Purple Shades’ is a dramatic reddy purple variety with a honey sweet scent. You can’t get more fragrant than sweet peas. They come in a mouthwatering range of colours, from pale pinks and whites to deep purples and will scramble up a trellis or wigwam of bamboo canes. They’re annual so need planting out yearly but you’ll be rewarded with an abundance of flowers – keep picking them and they’ll keep coming for months. For fab scented perennials, you can’t beat, Phlox paniculata, which will fill the air with sweet scent from July to autumn. P. ‘Rembrandt,’ is a white variety while P. ‘Blue Paradise’ has lovely violet flowers.
The intensely pink Rosa ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ is a reliable shrub rose. R. ‘Jude the Obscure’ has scented amber-yellow flowers and for something more dramatic, R. ‘Munstead Wood’ has very dark crimson flowers with a rich fruity scent. Lovely scented climbers include pale pink ‘New Dawn’ or the paler still ‘Madame Alfred Carrier,’ or R. ‘The Generous Gardener’,