Spring Gardens for the Senses

spring senses color landscape design

It seems that most landscapes and gardens are measured in terms of visual appeal. Sight may be the most important sense used to assess a garden, but in reality, each of our senses measures gardens. This makes the sense of smell one of the most important intangibles when establishing a garden.

It is easy to combine fragrant plants into your garden. Remember that fragrance is provided by both flowers and foliage, and it is best to place fragrant plants in locations where their fragrance will merit attention. Suggested locations are: near entryways to a residence, alongside a porch, patio or deck, and along a pathway that leads from one location of the garden to another. Through careful plant selection, you can enjoy fragrance in the garden from spring through fall.

Roses and Lilies are among the most fragrant of flowers for the garden. Roses can be high maintenance; most fragrant varieties are Hybrid Teas, Floribundas, or select shrub roses called Rosa rugosa,  all of which need to be sprayed throughout the growing season to ward off fungus or insects. Yet, if you have an ideal area for growing roses- a sunny place that has good air circulation, near an area where the fragrance can be enjoyed, then the investment of time will probably be worthwhile.

If you like the scent of Lilies, plant Oriental Lily plants. Available in a myriad of colors, heights, and bloom sizes, lilies readily grow in sunny well-drained gardens. You have to be willing to stake them because they become top-heavy once they bloom. You also need to be aware that squirrels and chipmunks will eat the bulbs, and that deer, rabbits and groundhogs will nip the tops.

You can tuck fragrant herbs, such as thyme, sage, and lavender, into well-drained spots amongst rocks or within a pathway where their scent is released by brushing against the foliage. Basil is very fragrant, and is easy to grow in a pot that you can place on your stoop, deck, or even on a table. Mint is also fragrant, and is best planted in a pot to prevent its aggressive roots from creeping through the landscape.

Here are some other easily grown plants that will provide fragrance in the garden:

Petunias- especially those with dark purple flowers

Snapdragons- try the old-fashioned tall single varieties or Liberty series

Nicotiana- tall varieties, especially ‘Only the Lonely’ ‘Fragrant Cloud’ and

‘Heaven Scent’, all that can be easily grown from seed

Other flowering plants that will provide scent in the garden include perennial Dianthus, Cone Flowers, Tall Garden Phlox, Peonies, Bearded Iris, Butterfly Bush, Russian Sage, ‘Guacamole’ Hosta, Sweet Autumn Clematus, and Catmint.

Shrubs and trees can also provide scent in the garden. Many varieties of Crabapple and Magnolia trees have pleasing scents, whereas Hawthorn tree flowers smell foul. Shrubs, such as selected varieties of Viburnum, Summersweet, and Lilac, have varying degrees of fragrance. Bayberry shrubs have heavily scented leaves and need to be carefully located because they can grow to be very large and need to be pruned frequently.

So enjoy your garden with all of your senses by planting a few fragrances into your landscape.