• Julia Watson

Fragrance in the Garden


sweet pea flowers
Sweet peas - one of the best fragrant flowers

This post is really just a list of my personal opinions on what smells wonderful in the garden. You can agree or disagree, but it’ll get you thinking about this aspect of your own garden. We all want our gardens to look good, but don’t forget that you’ll enjoy fragrance in the garden, too. Here are my own favorites and a few that I don’t like at all.


Osmanthus – it’s the best of all. Also known as sweet olive, it’s a shrub or small tree with tiny white flowers. Their scent is soft and lightly sweet, similar to apricot. October is the peak season for fragrance, but it’s there in spring too.

Sweet peas - need I say more?

Sweet alyssum - small plants, small flowers, but a wonderful honey scent.

Orange blossoms - don't we all love this scent?

Gardenia - most varieties bloom in July and August

Daphne - a shrub that blooms in winter, so just when there's not much going on in the garden, we get highly fragrant blooms that scent the air.

Roses – this is a mixed bag, with some roses having no scent at all. The most fragrant rose I ever grew myself was ‘Barbara Steisand.’ But the plant had so many bad habits that I finally took it out. ‘Scentimental’ is a good rose for scent, as is ‘Outta the Blue.’ But you’ll find your own favorites and there are thousands of roses to choose from.

Stock – a cool season annual, the scent is spicy, similar to cloves. I absolutely love it.

Freesia – a spring flower grown from bulbs; the scent is beautiful but hard to describe.


And finally, here are some flower fragrances that I don’t like (but you might).

Tuberose – it’s simply too strong. Lilies can be like that too, but some of them are wonderful as long as they’re not in a small closed space or too close to the dinner table.

Iris – too similar to cat pee.

Hyacinth – much too strong!


daphne flowers
Daphne, a fragrant winter bloomer

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