The wonderful world of flowers! I love watching how people instinctively sniff a bouquet of flowers, as if they’re always expecting perfume. Well, if you choose the right specimens for your garden, you can always have the very best perfume, and it’s supplied in a bottomless atomiser! Call it an all-you-can-sniff deal if you like!
Sometimes, with modern breeding, fragrance can be discounted for the sake of other merits. A prime example would be carnations, where shelf life is often chosen over scent. How disappointing to grab that bunch of blooms and expect a perfume, but to only smell cellophane!
Why do flowers have fragrance? Well, it’s mostly a call to action for pollinators, along with colour and shape. Scent is much better at attracting pollinators over distances, such is the way it carries in the air. You probably notice that scents are more prominent when the air is humid, this is because they can slice through the air easier. Sweet scents attract bees and flies, whereas bad odours (and there are some in the plant world!) attract beetles, who then do their pollinating job! Almost no two scents are the same either, which makes it rather exciting to explore. In fact, some rose breeders classify the fragrances in their offspring in a pyramid, describing it in a similar way to how wine tickles your palette with that cocktail of flavours!
Many plants have other fragrant parts too, have you ever sniffed the violet-fragranced roots of Orris (Iris pallida), or perhaps the rose flavours of the aptly-named Roseroot (Rhodiolia rosea)? Or, of course, there are a myriad of scented leaves in the herb world, did you know there are mints that ‘smell’ of everything from eau de cologne to chocolate and banana!
So, I’d now like to recommend some of the top fragrant plants to you. They are all very different, so whether you’ve got a patio, a garden or an acre, you can now ‘grow your own perfume’!
A plant that was destined for the compost heap, but saved at the last moment, and we’re so glad they did! I often refer to it as the Staircase Daphne, such is the way the blooms can travel up the stem, hollyhock-style! Daphne are notoriously difficult to culture, but ‘Perfume Princess’ is kinda bionic! Many years of trials have affirmed that the plants grow in a broad range of climates (even super sunny spots) and an extension to the usual flowering period is also welcomed. Whilst acid is the preference, this Daphne will also perform well in a range of soils.
Whilst this princess can be grown as a feature border shrub, it’s also compact enough to fit container growing. The rounded habit of the plant looks neat, and the glossy foliage looks good all year, satisfying your garden style even before those powerfully-scented blossoms arrive! Don’t forget that unmistakable citrus fragrance either, pumping out of every single floret!
From the moment they were released to the public, these Fairy Magnolias have interested me, as their shape and habit lends them to something you wouldn’t normally use Magnolias for; hedging! You’re getting the usual glossy foliage, which stays on the plants all year round, and each spring a covering of scented goblets.
The flowers are smaller than usual, but this merely means you’re treated to more of them, it has been said they produce 1 flower per leaf axil! I seriously can’t think of a better hedge, but of course their smaller stature means they’re also good in patio containers too.
That staple plant you know from every quintessential English cottage garden has now been remixed for the 21st century! Selected for powdery mildew tolerance, so your plants won’t ever have that ‘summer snow’ that afflicts so many border Phlox.
‘Volcano’ Phlox plants are shorter, well-structured and the flowerheads don’t come once in the season, but twice. Both times they’ll be richly fragrant too, why not consider cutting a few for indoors. There is no border plant more heavenly than Phlox!
Tesselaar Plants are a team of international plant hunters, who only select the very best plants for their grower programmes. You can be assured that each and every plant chosen by them will perform around the world, and with the very minimum of effort. Find out more about the full Tesselaar range of plants here.