Which plants smell especially intense and good? And how can you create an optimal fragrance experience in your garden?
On a balmy summer evening, as the sun begins to set, the sweet, heavy perfume of Scented Evening Primrose spreads. It is not long before the first night owls arrive to pollinate the newly opened flowers.
The plant is just one of many examples of greens that emit a particularly intense floral scent. On the one hand, this is vital for many plants because they use it to attract beneficial insects or avoid predators. On the other hand, scent serves as a form of communication between plants. A positive side effect: We humans benefit from the fragrant inhabitants of our gardens. They become more and more a sensual experience.
Sensual experience above all through scent
“It’s not just the eyes, mouth, ears and skin that work as sensory organs, but also the nose,” says Sarah Stiller. The author and blogger from Munich likes to walk mindfully through her garden in the summer. Her nose immediately notes rose, lilac and elderflower, she says.
It also smells of wild garlic and with a little more attention you can see the leaves of the black currant bushes. However, sometimes you have to help the flavor develop along the way. Geraniums or fragrant tomatoes, for example, develop their leaf perfume only when they are touched.
A bed, a fragrance
Sarah Stiller advises choosing only one perfume when planning a bed. “Lemon, spicy or heavy sweet scents should not be mixed.” This makes it easier to integrate individual aromatic plants into an existing plan. If you want to smell different directions, it is better to distribute them in different places in the garden.
“In terms of color, it’s actually not that difficult to integrate fragrant flowers into garden design,” says Sarah Stiller. It is often white-flowered or inconspicuous plants that use a subtle perfume to draw attention to themselves.
As examples she mentions the fragrant stone (Lobularia maritima) and the orange flower (Choisya ternata). The annual minionet (Reseda odorata) has small cream-colored flowers in candle-shaped inflorescences, which usually catch the eye first and then the nose.
Aromatic for the seat
It is important to Karen Schoebel that aromatic plants come into a place by themselves. “You can really feel the relaxing effect of the perfume of flowers in a calm atmosphere,” says the master gardener and owner of an aromatic nursery in Bergen an der Dumme (Lower Saxony).
However, it should be borne in mind that plants do not always have the same smell: just like the flowering and presence of individual plants, the range of aromas also changes from spring to autumn.
While sweet violets (Viola odorata) release their fine perfume in spring, blue-flowered wood phlox (Phlox divaricata), for example, takes over in early summer. Then the levcoin (Matthiola incana) fills the air.
It smells stronger in sunny beds
And the scent of a garden is not the same at any time of the day: while spring flowers such as hyacinths (Hyacinthus orientalis) and tulips (Tulipa) already release their fragrance in the morning, summer night scents unfold their perfume only at dusk of the evening. The latter include evening primrose (Oenothea), moon violet (Lunaria annua) and miracle flower (Mirabilis jalapa).
Weather also plays a role: sunlight promotes fragrance development, wind does not. “The cloud of essential oils only stays in one place when there is no smell,” says Sarah Stiller.
Info: Aromatic in the vegetable patch
Aromatic plants do not need their own bed. They can also be easily integrated into the kitchen garden. “Aroma plants should be used between rows of lettuce, vegetables and fruits to attract beneficial insects and pollinators,” advises book author Sarah Stiller.
In spring you can plant night violets (Hesperis matronalis) in shady areas next to compost and sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus) in a wire trellis. William Sweet (Dianthus barbatus), a popular cut flower, only needs a little more space in the first half of summer. So it cleverly serves as a holder for late cabbage and lettuce varieties.
Scents help repel pests
Other plants in the vegetable bed keep pests at bay, for example the various lavender aphids. But above all, the smell of marigolds (marigolds), which we usually find very harsh and rather unpleasant, serves to protect against pests in the vegetable bed.
By the way: Gardener Karen Schoebel advises that mosquitoes and moths can be kept out of the bedroom if you place frankincense (Plectranthus coleoides) in boxes by the window.