If there is one group of plants that I love the most, it is probably those with scented flowers (I’ll stop quickly before I think too much, or it will be those with colourful flowers, those that provide shade or those that feed us!?). While I am aware of many scents during the day, it is during late afternoon and evenings when I wander to move a hose or just potter in the garden that I am most aware of the delicious scents around my home. I did plan it that way, as it was always a goal to have scented plants and flowers around our home for the whole twelve months of the year. Here are some of my favourites:
Chinese Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides)
I have this sweetly scented climber with white starry flowers growing up the post by my front door so that I can get a waft of its delicious sweet scent every time I walk by. Its main flush of flowers is in spring however it continues to produce some flowers through summer into autumn. Even though it has become rather common and everyone uses it, it is still worth growing. It is tolerant of sun, semi-shade or shade and unlike most climbers which run up a pole or fence and ‘ball’ on top, this plant keeps its foliage dense and lush, all the way to the bottom. This is not a true jasmine and I have not met people who find this scent unpleasant or overpowering.
Lemon scented jasmine (Jasminum azoricum)
This is a true jasmine with clean pure white flowers and glossy dark green leaves. Many people find the scent of true jasmines overpowering, but I personally, I think you can’t get too much of a good smell. It is growing on the corner of the chook yard to overcome any not so nice smells that may occur!?
Honeysuckle (Lonicera species)
I think the form I am growing is L. japonica ‘Halliana’, a type of Japanese Honeysuckle has bright green oval leaves and perfumed small white flowers, which age to soft yellow in summer and autumn. The sweet nectar has been sucked from the base of the flowers by many a small and not so small child! This Honeysuckle is a vigorous woody stemmed, twining climber and I have got it on the other corner of the chook yard for the same reason.
Butterfly Bushes (Buddleja species).
These shrubs make a wonderful addition to any sunny garden and they are just starting to come into flower in Sophie’s Patch at the moment. They produce cone shaped heads of flowers which have a rich sweet scent and attract both butterflies and honey eating birds. I have become rather addicted to them and have more than 16 different varieties in my garden. While most form large shrubs 3-4 metres high there are now a number of dwarf cultivars that get just 1-2m high. Flower colours ranging from white and lemon yellow, to pink and many shades of lavender and purple. It is worth dead heading Buddlejas throughout their flowering season if you can, as it does extend their flowering period significantly. While these plants are hardy, in my garden they do best on one good soak a week.
Other scents that will bloom later in summer and my nose is eagerly awaiting are Chilean jasmine and Night scented jessamine.
Chilean Jasmine (Mandevilla laxa) flowers in late summer and into autumn
Having planted this climber several years ago it has not really taken off till the last few months. While most Mandevillas are better suited to warmer, sub-tropical environments, this variety can take cold, frost and exposed positions. It has fresh green leaves and large open creamy white flowers with a delicious sweet scent. It is a vigorous, woody-stemmed, twining climber that is deciduous in colder areas and semi-evergreen in milder positions, and it will grow in full sun or semi-shade.
Night Scented Jessamine (Cestrum nocturnum).
This plant is a must have for summer scents and it actually took me several goes to get it to survive as it is frost tender. Add to this the fact that its flowers are small and an insignificant lemon yellow colour, and its foliage is very ordinary and so the plant is best positioned at the back of the border, almost out of site. Why would I bother? The insignificant flowers come to life after about 6pm in warmer weather and fill the air with a delicious sweet scent – to me it smells like custard powder. I deliberately positioned one under by bedroom window so I could enjoy it inside, however having just swapped bedrooms with the girls I realise I need to plant another where I can get the benefit. I placed another near our back door and our back deck so we could enjoy its scent when relaxing outside. Both are placed up against stone walls or concrete tanks so that they are protected from the frost.
There are many other scented plants in my garden from the common myrtle (Myrtus communis) which had its main flush of flowers before Christmas, yet continues to produce a few flowers with a strong sweet scent that is loved by the bees as well as me, to roses and taller lavenders such as Lavandula x allardii and L. x heteropylla.