By Elaine Sisko, Reynolds Landscaping
Eye-catching color and contrasting textures create visual and tactile interest in the garden. Grasses rustling in the breeze and the gurgle of a water fountain add relaxing auditory pleasures. The perceptual delights that abound in the garden can be further elevated when fragrance is considered in the design of planting beds and flowering containers – adding a whimsical element to the environment.
While planting for fragrance can be employed with reckless abandon, a few guidelines should be followed. Consider placing fragrant plants where they will be most appreciated – adjacent to an entryway, next to a patio, or near an open window where the fragrance can drift through the house to the delight of all it embraces. Keep in mind, if planted too close, heavily-scented flowers may overpower a confined area. Instead, consider staggering their placement throughout the landscape.
Most fragrant plants prefer full-sun and are generally deer resistant. Additionally, flowering plants attract butterflies, bees, and other pollinating insects to the garden. When choosing fragrant annuals, perennials, flowering vines, shrubs, and trees to enhance your outdoor living area and add sensory enjoyment to your experience, consider the following:
Sweet alyssum, a flowering annual, makes an effective six-inch high boarder plant in the garden and trailer in the container. Stock is also fragrant, and, at six to twelve inches tall, can be utilized in both early spring container and cutting gardens. Sweet William, at a height of twelve to eighteen inches, is ideal for a mid-garden location. Nicotiana, or flowering tobacco, is a three-foot tall annual that bears delicate sweet-smelling trumpet-like flowers from late May to early June.
Lavender, with purple or white flowers on gray green foliage, is a twelve to eighteen-inch tall perennial herb prized for both its culinary uses and calming medicinal properties. When dried, lavender has further applications as both a moth repellent and fragrant sachet. Always a popular offering at Reynolds Landscaping is the three-foot tall perennial Phlox; a late summer to early fall fragrant perennial that adds impact as the flowering garden begins to wane.
For fragrant impact on a trellis or pergola, consider the magnificent cascading inflorescence of the gardenia-scented Wisteria vine. A vigorous grower, this purple or white spring-blooming perennial vine requires durable foundational support. The intoxicating scent of annual Jasmine is a super-star among fragrant performers. Trailing over trellises or evergreen shrubs; it dies with the first frost. To extend the sensory impact of flowering vines into the late summer, plant the perennial Sweet Autumn Clematis whose lovely and distinctive scent mimics that of Jasmine.
Easy to grow and naturalizing bountifully throughout the spring flower beds, the unmistakable scent of Lily of the Valley conjures up memories of grandmother’s garden. This ground cover with diminutive white or pink bell-shaped hanging flowers is best grown in light shade, adding a fragrant pop along the base of trees and shrubs. German or Bearded Iris is among the most beautiful flowering perennials. Available in a rainbow of colors, and standing up to three feet tall, they are a site to behold.
Several cultivars of spring-blooming Jonquilla Narcissus are highly fragrant as well. The large creamy yellow clusters of flowers of Ehrlicheer and the yellow blossoms of Baby Moon are especially fragrant. For a highly scented, summer blooming rhizomic perennial consider Oriental lilies – Star Gazer in deep pink and white or Casa Blanca in white. Keep in mind, Oriental lilies pack a strong fragrance and if clustered in a confined setting the scent can be overpowering.
No fragrant garden would be complete without the distinct and ubiquitous scent of the classic English Rose. The David Austin English Rose collection offers several outstanding performers including coral colored Evelyn and the fuchsia toned William Shakespeare. The large beautiful flowers of the peony are delicately scented and come in a diverse color palette. These sun-loving plants range in size from eighteen-inch perennials to six-feet tall tree-form varieties, and if properly sited, can live in the same locations for over 100 years. Korean Spice Viburnum is another heavily-scented spring-blooming shrub for the fragrant garden sporting white to light pink spicy-smelling flowers.
Another highly fragrant shrub, and always a popular seller at Reynolds Landscaping, is the summer blooming six to eight-foot tall Clethra – a deer-resistant native that grows locally in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. The vertical candle-like inflorescence of the Clethra attracts both butterflies and bees and comes in shades of pink and white. Ruby Spice is a particularly attractive pink-blooming cultivar. An old time favorite for the fragrant spring garden is the Lilac with its easily recognizable scent and color palette ranging from white and pink to lavender. Miss Kim is an exceptional performer and ranges in height from six to eight-feet tall.
Finally, for larger, structural fragrant plant material, consider Chionanthus, also known as fringe tree, a small patio tree, approximately twelve to twenty-feet tall, with delicately sweet-scented feathery white flowers that bloom in mid-spring. The evergreen Southern Magnolia, makes a large, eye-catching addition to the summer garden with its bold white eight-inch wide saucer-like flowers. The sweetly scented blossoms delight during the warmer months.
The addition of fragrant plants heightens the pleasures of the garden and outdoor spaces. Reynolds Landscaping offers many cultivars of annual and perennial fragrant plants.
Visit Reynolds Landscaping and Garden Center located at 201 East Bay Avenue in Manahawkin, NJ to view these and other fragrant and ornamental plants for your gardens. In-season hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. – seven days a week. To check on availability of a specific plant or cultivar please call the Garden Center at 609-597-6099.