Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Western Mountains and High Plains
April, 2010
Regional Report

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Compact mock orange planted near a window will bring the sweet fragrance indoors.

Pump Up Your Garden's Fragrance

Your sense of smell will keep you out in the garden until it's too dark and stirs up old memories from garden's past. Getting more fragrance in your garden is relatively easy to do and it will add some interesting plants to your landscape.

Look for areas that are sheltered from wind. These will capture and hold fragrance that might otherwise be lost in a gustier spot. Sites near retaining walls, privacy fences, and other natural windbreaks are ideal for growing fragrant shrubs. With the right placement of fragrance producers, you will create areas with perfume in your garden.

You can't fully enjoy the fragrance of a rose if it's grown in a distant rose bed, so move the fragrant types closer to the patio, deck, or outdoor living area. Don't forget about those sitting areas where a wooden bench is placed. Even ground covers, like my favorite, woolly thyme (Thymus pseudolanuginosus), edging a pathway will make your footsteps release a sweet aroma into the air. Raised beds are ideal for bringing highly fragrant Oriental lilies to "nose height", while providing the needed drainage for the lilies' roots.

Container gardens planted with fragrant blooms can be placed at nose-level when the flower buds begin to open. Even herb gardens planted with Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) will pack a perfume punch. When growing fragrant flowers in hanging baskets, rig the supports so you can easily adjust the chains to keep the blossoms closer to nose-level.

One of my favorite shrubs is mock orange (Philadelphus spp.), which is covered with hundreds of fragrant, single or double white flowers in early summer. The compact mock orange makes an ideal foundation plant near a window. Of course, what would the garden be without a lilac or two, or three? Lilacs are natural for a fragrant planting with their alluring aromas in spring to early summer. Plant varieties that will bloom at varied times to extend the flowering season.

To maximize the perfume scents of shrubs, site them so prevailing winds will carry the blossoms' scents toward a bedroom window or outdoor living area.

When you visit a garden center or nursery this year, let your nose do some shopping by discovering the distinctively sweet smells from Nature. One of my favorite vines is sweet-breath-of-spring honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima). Plant it so it can meander up a trellis or pergola, and this quick-grower will release its sweet fragrance in the summer garden.

Some plants are a natural for a sensory garden. When you swish your hands through the foliage of fragrant herbs such as rosemary, lavender and basil they release invisible spicy scents into the air.
With the right planning and placement of fragrant plants, your garden will release sweet-smelling secrets to invoke memories of gardens of yesteryear.

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