Fragrance, though often subtle, can make a difference between an ordinary garden and a memorable one. In the garden, we find a space where we can feel both removed from our daily cares and connected to nature. Going back to our childhood what pleasing scents do we remember from Grandma’s garden? A memorable garden needs fragrance along with color and texture. Here are some favorites that do well here in Texas.
During the cool weather months, you simply have to experience a fence planted with sweet peas. Seeded or set out early in the spring, they will add fragrance to the landscape from February to May. Pinks, members of the dianthus family, are extremely fragrant with their clove-like scented blossoms that fragrant the air until warm weather arrives. Plant them close to your entry so you can enjoy their fragrance as you pass by.
Looking for a vine, try Carolina jessamine. It commands all the attention in the landscape with its impressive burst of yellow fragrant funnel-shaped flowers that make quite a show in early spring.
Texas mountain laurel is a native tree. This evergreen produces blossoms with a strong, grape-like fragrance reminiscent of Grapette soda that we old-timers will remember. Although it is a slow grower, it is worth the wait. Blooms appear in March and April. Southern magnolia, also an evergreen, is a charmer best known for its fragrant showy flowers. Little gem and teddy bear are smaller species of the magnolia that are better adapted to small city lots.
If a hedge is in your plans, rosemary could be a good choice. This perennial is evergreen, you can cook with it, and as a bonus, it has a wonderful fragrance and light blue blossoms. Brush against the foliage to release its wonderful scent. Rosemary likes to be kept on the dry side. If you need a hedge in a more moist location, elaeagnus is an evergreen shrub with silvery leaves. This shrub will surprise you each fall with its sweetly fragrant, though obscure, flowers that appear.
Used in our area as an annual, nicotiana or flowering tobacco likes afternoon shade. Consider planting it around the porch or patio where you can enjoy its fragrance as you sit in the afternoon shade. The large tubular white flowers of angel’s trumpet, datura, come out each evening for only one day. Enjoy its magnificent fragrance as you watch for the lunar moth (as large as a hummingbird) to come out at night to visit the blossom.
We immediately think of roses for their fragrance. You know, “Stop and smell the roses.” Texas A&M in their Texas SuperStar program has developed marie daly, an easy-care shrub rose with few thorns and lots of very fragrant double pink blooms. The outstanding fragrance of heirloom roses is indisputable. Heirloom roses such as Lady Banks and Baroness Rothschild are vigorous and relatively carefree.
A must for every gardener’s summer garden would have to include the salvias (there are more than 700 species). Salvia greggii, or autumn sage, has fragrant foliage. The fragrance becomes obvious when you simply brush against it. Flowers and foliage of pineapple sage invigorate the air with a pineapple scent in the fall months. The flowers are edible.
During the cooler months of fall, look for two cousins that fragrant the garden. Enjoy the anise-like scent of the leaves of Mexican mint marigold (Texas tarragon) and Copper Canyon daisy. Both have bright yellow blossoms that complement fall asters. A vine on a trellis should include autumn clematis, a vine that blooms in late summer with a knock-your-socks-off fragrance coming from creamy-white flowers.
The list could go on and on, but the most important thing is to include fragrance in your landscape. Breeding for larger and better blossoms has removed the scent from many species. You may have to sniff around to find the right fragrance for you.