It is hard to imagine a time when taking in the fragrance of spring was more inviting than taking in the latest movie. Enjoying the heady aromas of flowers bursting forth after a dark and dismal winter used to be high entertainment. Fragrant plants add an extra dimension to gardening; a dimension that is often overlooked. The scented herbs chosen for this garden are hardy enough to return each year in Zone 5 and up, giving the garden and the gardener a chance to appreciate the advantage of having mature aromatic plants in the landscape. Knowing that a plant will return to provide its fragrant essence in the same way year after year is comforting and memorable.
Silver Southernwood is a variety of sea green Southernwood. Both have a really clean aroma that reminds us of a rainy day in the woods. These are small plants that do well planted just behind your Chocolate Daisy and in front of your Grosso Lavender. They usually lose their leaves in the winter or die back to the ground completely. Each year they emerge larger. In Victorian times, Southernwood was carried in a nose gay to mask unwanted odors. Today, because the leaves keep their fragrance when dried, they are often added to sachets or potpourris.
The ‘Chocolate Fragrance Award’ goes to the Chocolate Scented Daisy, a quarter-size yellow daisy with striking, red-striped undersides and chocolate-colored stamens. An open, airy plant that grows to about two feet in diameter and about 18 inches tall. It makes an excellent edging plant or front of the border plant. Or, plant it in a container that can be conveniently placed for frequent use.
The cocoa scent wafts gently through the air or it can be smelled directly from the flower. The scent is in the stamens which drop with temperatures above 90. The flowers are delicate and do not last long if picked. As the petals drop an interesting seed pod is left behind. These can be used for dried crafts, if picked just when the flower head has turned brown. Or, if the seeds are left to mature, they can be easily collected for planting Chocolate Scented Daisy next spring.
Roman Chamomile is one of those small plants that packs a big aromatic punch. Smelling like a Jolly Rancher sour apple candy, it makes an odiferous bright green ground cover in cool summer climes. Often used in England to fill in cracks between pavers, as a path cover or perhaps as a soft bench cover, it is sometimes referred to as English Chamomile. Roman Chamomile can be used to make a fragrant pathway or a nice aromatic surprise tucked among other garden plants. If it pushes against other plants it can get up to a foot high with bloom. It can also be mowed to the ground to keep it flat. The flowers are few but can be used for tea.
Dianthus are related to carnations and, like modern carnations, many Dianthus are bred today for sturdiness and flower color which often leaves their heady aroma behind. Not so with our Dianthus ’Nova’. An older variety that is very rare today, the flowers fill the nose with the warm scent of cloves. And, not to be outdone by their modern counterparts, these flowers are as equally beautiful and prolific. They make wonderful additions to container groupings where they can sprawl off the edge. They can also be mixed into the flower garden where they provide a surprise. They may die back in colder zones and stay evergreen in warmer ones.
One of many fragrant and ornamental Lavender hybrids, Grosso Lavender’s dark purple flowers and heavenly clean pine scent are most welcome on warm summer afternoons. Grosso Lavender flower wands are great for fresh herbal crafting. The flowers and leaves of Grosso lavender may be used in any recipe calling for lavender, such as Herbes de Provence. Prune after bloom into the leaves about a third of the way down. Shape into a nice oval ball for maximum flower wands the next spring. Never prune into woody stems with no visible growth. This can lead to the demise of the plant. Grosso Lavender likes good drainage and full sun. In humid climates, it is very helpful to raise it off the ground or grow it in an adequate size container.
The rich aroma of Cinnamon is the reward for growing Catmint. Related to Catnip, Giant Catmint is both more beautiful and more pleasing to smelland is frequented by beneficial insects and butterflies. If cut back almost to the ground after its spring bloom, it will usually bloom again in late summer. It dies back to the ground in winter and emerges larger in diameter each spring. Giant Catmint looks good in the front of the border or mixed with Pink and White Roses.
Additional plants to consider
The plants listed here make excellent additions to this collection. Click through to read more about them or add them to your order.