Fragrant Plants for a Beautifully Scented Garden
We design our gardens to be a feast for the eyes, but with careful plant selection they can be a treat for all the senses. There is great pleasure to be had from a beautifully scented garden; whether that is the fragrant waft as you run your hands through lavender, or the sweet scent of hamamelis brightening the winter garden.
Position your scented plants along a path, in pots near doors, or create a perfumed border. However you position them, you will be richly rewarded. There are a large number of scented plants to select from all year around. We highlight some of our favourites for every season.
Scented Plants for Winter
Those plants that produce a winter fragrance offer the most fantastically intense perfume of any season. This is an evolutionary trick to attract the sparse number of pollinators that are not in hibernation at this time of year.
Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Arnold Promise’
This vigorous, deciduous shrub produces freely borne spidery flowers which appear from December through to March. It brings much needed bright yellow to the winter garden, along with a beautiful fragrance.
Another fantastic plant for winter scent is Sarcococca confusa, also known as Christmas box. The stems are graced by masses of tiny white fragrant flowers in December. Plant near a path to get the most from its glorious scent.
Viburnum bodnatense ‘Dawn’
This large, deciduous, upright shrub produces dense clusters of richly scented light pink to white flowers that start in shades of deep pink in the autumn, turning white by spring.
Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’
Developed by skilled Hillier plant breeder Alan Postill, Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’ has an outstanding flower fragrance. It is considered by many to be one of the best spring-flowering shrubs. Position it close to the house, or along a pathway frequented in winter, to get the most from its fantastic scent.
Lonicera x purpusii ‘Winter Beauty’
This a fantastic, hardy, winter-flowering honeysuckle variety. Sweetly scented cream flowers are produced on bare branches from late winter into early spring. Perfect in a mixed border or winter garden and absolutely loved by bees.
Scented Plants for Spring
Many of the plants that offer winter fragrance will still be providing beautiful fragrance into early spring. There are more plants you can add to your garden to bolster its perfume in spring.
Erysimum ‘Apricot Delight’
Erysimum ‘Apricot Delight’ produces delicately scented apricot-orange flowers between March and August and is a favourite for bees and butterflies. If regularly deadheaded, in warmer areas it has been known to produce flowers all year round.
Cytisus praecox ‘Allgold’
A hardy, upright, deciduous shrub that is covered in highly-scented bright yellow blooms in mid to late spring. An easy-to-grow plant that is perfect as part of a mixed border.
A hardy, evergreen shrub whose fragrant white flowers appear in spring, often followed by a second flush in autumn. Also known as Mexican orange, the leaves also offer a sweet orange fragrance, giving rise to its common name. This is a fantastic shrub for almost year-round scent.
Scented Plants for Summer
Some of the most classic garden fragrances, like lavender and rose scent, come to the fore from late spring into summer.
Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’ (English lavender)
Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’ has narrow, silvery-grey leaves and produces deep violet-purple flowers in dense, aromatic spikes. It is loved by bees and butterflies, but with its distinctive scent and flavour is also frequently used in cooking.
Rosa ‘Gertrude Jekyll’
The perfume of roses is perhaps one of the most distinctive scents in the garden. Roses offer the gardener an array of fragrances – fruity, floral, musky, spicy. Interestingly, individuals will perceive the scent differently as we all have differing perceptions of scent. For a classic ‘old rose’ scent, try Rosa ‘Gertrude Jekyll’. This outstanding variety from David Austin Roses has twice been voted the nation’s favourite rose, with the quintessential ‘old rose’ fragrance.
Dianthus ‘Flutterby’ has only been available in large volumes at Hillier Garden Centres since 2019. The delicately patterned single magenta flowers have a blackcurrant eye and white fringed petals plus a sweet fragrance that lasts all summer. Plant at the front of borders, in rock gardens or in a container.
Salvia ‘Hot Lips’
Salvia 'Hot Lips' produces vibrant, eye-catching flower spikes in vividly contrasting red and white from July through to October. Get closer and enjoy the sweet blackcurrant fragrance from its foliage.
Lilium formosanum var pricei
This stunning lily variety has large trumpet-shaped flowers which create a delightful fragrance through the summer months. It looks stunning in ornamental containers or in raised beds.
This fantastic shrub can grow up to 15ft tall and was first grown by Hillier in the 1960s. Once it is established in the garden, the silver leaves shimmer. In early summer, the clusters of tiny pale-yellow flowers also produce a wonderful fragrance – it really attracts the nose.
Philadelphus maculatus ‘Sweet Clare’
A hardy, deciduous shrub that produces strongly scented, downward-facing delicate white flowers blotched with crimson in mid-summer. Ideal in the mixed border or as a specimen plant.
Scented Plants for Autumn
As the garden heads towards its winter rest, a number of plants continue to bring beautiful perfume.
Skimmia japonica ‘fragrans’
Skimmias are versatile shrubs that are suitable for almost any garden. If you would like fantastic scent, along with autumn – winter interest, choose Skimmia japonica ‘fragrans’. This compact variety has dark green aromatic leaves and dense clusters of fragrant white flowers.
From late summer into autumn, the Abyssinian gladiolus produces masses of pretty and very fragrant white flowers with distinctive, burgundy-coloured petal bases.