In my garden I have very few ‘rules’ when it comes to choosing plants, but I do like to be able to smell them, eat them or enjoy their colour. Luckily, that gives me plenty of scope for my beds and borders!
Scented shrubs are sometimes overlooked in garden design, but a delicate play of fragrances remains an important part of my enjoyment. Here are some of the plants and flowers I like to grow for low-maintenance layers of colour or deliciously sweet smell.
In praise of heather
Amongst the more fragrant flowers that I grow are traditional sweet peas, roses, stocks and pinks but one of my favourite scented shrubs has to be tree heather (Erica arborea). When we bought our current house, the owner made us promise to wait until the rather unruly tree heather had flowered before we decided what to do with it. So we dutifully watched and waited as the large green shrub started to sprout white buds. And then it flowered. It looked pretty good, but it was the smell that was truly amazing! A heady mix of almonds and something else that I can’t quite identify.
If you don’t have space for huge specimen plants, there are plenty of smaller (unscented) heathers to fill your garden with a carpet of striking colour. Heather ‘Darley Dale’ is a bushy, evergreen variety that provides excellent ground cover. With pink-tipped new growth in spring, glowing bronze foliage in winter and a blaze of pink flowers from October until May, this easy-to-grow shrub offers sensational colour through the darkest months. Heather ‘White Perfection’ is another beautiful, low-growing option. Its white flowers light up a winter garden and provide valuable nectar for pollinators. I can’t praise heather highly enough!
Three low-maintenance shrubs for beautiful scent
If, like me, you consider scent as an important part of garden design, there are lots of shrubs from which to choose. Plant a selection of these highly-scented shrubs to fill your garden with all-year-round fragrance, even through the coldest months of the year. Try:
- Sarcocca ‘Winter Gem’ – attractive, highly-scented flowers from late December to early March.
- Daphne x transatlantica ‘Eternal Fragrance’ – blooming non-stop from April to October, this sweet-smelling shrub can be grown in containers or the ground.
- Choisya ‘Little Bee’ – enjoy the fresh citrus scent of this compact shrub which has white starry flowers from May to June.
Three climbing plants for gorgeous fragrance
You can transform the entire feel of a garden by adding climbing flowers. Lending a special sense of intimacy to seating areas and courtyards, adding scent as well as colour is a winning combination. Here are some great options to try:
- Jasminum x polyanthum ‘Starry Starry Summer Night’ – With exquisitely scented starry blooms, this vigorous climber makes a great addition to outdoor dining areas on warm summer evenings.
- Honeysuckle ‘Dart’s World’ – Climbing Japanese honeysuckles have superb fragrance and this richly scented variety fills the air from May until August.
- Climbing Rose ‘Paul’s Scarlet’ – for a delicate scent, this free-flowering, bright red climbing rose scrambles effortlessly over arches and arbours.
We hope this has given you plenty of food for thought, and that you’ll add more scented shrubs to your mix of colours, textures, heights and shapes. And heather! Don’t forget this much underrated groundcover shrub for a low maintenance carpet of colour.