Bringing a signature scent to your garden

FRAGRANCE is essential to the magic of any garden of whatever size. And if you have a small garden or only a terrace or balcony then at least every second plant should be a fragrant one.

There are so many deliciously and evocatively scented plants that we should all aim to grow.

There are other quieter scents that play a key role too – damp soil, cut grass, hot stone, moss – and all contribute to a constantly changing bouquet. Making perfume a top priority is one of the very best ways to plan or add to your planting.

EVERGREEN SCENTSMost year-round perfume is provided by leaves – classic evergreen favourites like rose geranium, lavender, rosemary and many of the sage family. A backbone of these will do wonders for the look and scent of the garden and they are equally suited to wild or formal, vegetable or flower plantings. Some plants, like lavender, also flower intermittently nearly all year round – a bonus.

WELCOMING AIRMost fragrant leaves are resinous sun-lovers and so ideal to scent a sunny entrance – front gate, door or path. Line a front path with a lavish billow of lavender, wild rosemary, scented-leaf pelargoniums or a mix of all three.

Variously scented thymes work well sown between paving slabs on steps or paths. Frame your front door with large bushes of rosemary, a trellis of honeysuckle or simple seasonal cascades of nasturtiums.

More shady entrances need lush green leaves and fragrant long-term bloomers; consider gardenia, Mexican orange blossom (Choisya ternata), orange jasmine (Murraya exotica), old reliable star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) – or all of them.

Ring the changes with smaller pots of seasonal scented flowers, especially lilies, moonflowers or Chinese jasmine on tripods.

SEASONAL SCENTSEveryone wants to have at least a few of the major fragrance events of the year: precious sparks through late winter and early spring such as narcissus, violets and hyacinths, jasmine and fruit blossom, followed by an avalanche in spring and early summer with buddleja, poppies, nasturtiums, stocks and wallflowers are all wonderful to pick for the house too.

Big guns firing from late spring through summer include yesterday-today-and-tomorrow (Brunfelsia pauciflora), wisteria, frangipani and moonflowers.

Late summer brings even richer scents, from pungent, spicy chrysanthemums to marigolds, coriander, basil and tomatoes.

THE WAFTERSSome plants are able to disperse their scent over a wide area like a fog on the slightest breeze. These are the ones to plant near the house, outside a bedroom window, near a patio or verandah.

The indigenous buddlejas do this, as do honeysuckle, mock orange stocks, orange and lemon blossom, acacias, privet, stocks and many of the night bloomers (more about them later). And the indigenous honeysuckle tree (Turraea floribunda) can load an entire garden with scent.

THE NIGHTCOMERSMoth-pollinated flowers lie low during the day. Some, like nicotianas, positively wilt but in the cool of evening lift their heads and begin to dispense their perfume.

Many indigenous bulbs do this, such as gladioli, hesperanthas and ixias. Night phlox (Zaluzianskya ovata) is another sweet-scented, indigenous charmer ideal for the patio table.

WILD SCENTSAnother way fragrance can work in the garden is to whisk you out of the city and into the countryside. The sweet scent of acacia will take you straight to the bushveld, spicy helichrysum up the Drakensberg, wild rosemary (Eriocephalus africanus) into the Karoo and buchu into the Cape mountains – happy reminders. © Home Weekly

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