When visiting gardens, I love to watch others interacting with plants.
They see a beautiful flower, then quicken their step towards it to get a closer look.
They touch the leaves, possibly the petals, and then lean in for a sniff. Natural reactions. We like to enjoy the garden with all our senses.
While we tend to lead with our eyes, we gather even more information about plants through touch, taste, sound, and scent.
The aromas we love most are there for biological reasons: to attract bees, hover flies and other pollinators.
Thankfully, we get a chance to enjoy their sweet perfumes also.
Of course, the whole point of making a flower garden is that it gives pleasure.
It should be colourful in each season, (especially during spring and summer) contain a decent number of scented plants, and more again with interesting foliage.
Plant colour is also important, and many growers aim for ‘themed’ grouping and associations.
It is safe to state that certain plants tend to look their best after sunset, when the light has softened, and the air cools.
In gardening circles, it is generally known that white flowers are more likely to open as evening arrives, standing out prominently as the surrounding colours fade.
By coincidence, it is these white flowers which give out the best scents.
Regale lilies, mentioned only recently, open their huge trumpet blooms daily but emit their strongest perfume as the summer sun drops beneath the horizon.
Other remarkable scents are associated with the white form of sweet pea and white tobacco plant sold as Nicotiana.
Coloured nicotiana are usually less powerfully scented so it pays to look for and grow, white varieties only.
These may still be possible to source at garden outlets despite being already half-way through our summer season.
Another sweetly perfumed plant is the Heliotrope, an annual beauty with purple blooms and almond scent.
Some even say it smells like cherry pie.
It prefers full sun but will tolerate light afternoon shade if the weather is on the hot side. Blooming from early summer to autumn it adds colour and fragrance to the summer garden.
Then there’s Stock, (Matthiola incana) to consider. This might be a grocery store bouquet staple, but these hardy flowers have a pleasant, spicy, clove-like scent.
They hold up well as cut flowers and are available in white, pink, purple, yellow and red.
You can grow this annual from seed in the spring to summer in a well-drained, sunny spot in your garden.
If all this is too much just now, then invest in a plant or two of scented geranium (Pelargonium graveolens).
Although these beauties are known for their attractive blooms, it’s the leaves of scented geranium that give them their famous aroma.
These plants have glands at the base of their leaf hairs where the scent is formed. When you crush the leaves, the oil is released and so is the scent.
Some say the scent (depending on the variety) smells like apricot, apple, lemon, mint, or strawberry.
Scented Geranium like full sun to partial shade and bloom from late spring into summer.
Do try some of these.