Sweet smell of success isn't hard to achieve

Purple haze: Fragrant lavender.

Purple haze: Fragrant lavender.

First published in Homes & Gardens

YOU can have wonderful aromas on your patio, or further up the garden the smell of deliciously-perfumed shrubs can fill the air.

If you only have room for one large scented plant at the back of your border, make it a mock orange (philadelphus), whose white flowers appear in profusion in June and July and whose rich orange-blossom fragrance can be enjoyed from a good distance away in the warm summer evenings.

It grows to around six feet (1.8 metres), although dwarf and taller varieties are available.

It is easy to grow almost anywhere – in poor soil, salt-laden air or other inhospitable environments – but for the best results give it a sunny spot.

Of course, the obvious suspects to include in your scented scheme are honeysuckles and lilies, which will have a more intoxicating fragrance grown within an arbour or sheltered patio than in windy, exposed sites. Roses, too, provide a heady perfume.

Position fragrant blooms where they will be most appreciated. Visitors can brush against low hedges of lavender on a garden path, and pots of fragrant annuals such as the trailing Surfinia ‘Blue Vein’ can be mounted on walls at sniffing height, while night-scented stocks and nicotiana planted below a window will create a wonderful scent indoors on summer evenings.

Dianthus, a genus which incorporates pinks, border carnations and sweet Williams, can also add the exotic aroma of cloves, while border phlox (Phlox paniculata) flowers from mid-summer to autumn and generates a delicious perfume.

Many herbs are also wonderfully aromatic as well as decorative. Thyme can trail over walls in rockeries or scree beds, rosemary has fantastic silver-grey, needle-like leaves and sage, basil and mint also add their own scent.

Conifers can also provide scent as well as height and year-round interest. Cupressus Goldcrest Wilma, an evergreen conifer with bright green, lemon-scented foliage, is often bought small to add height and foliage contrast to both summer and winter pots, although if planted out its eventual height will be six feet.

Many aromatic plants require full sun and can tolerate drought conditions, such as scented geraniums, whose leaves emit an enticing aroma.

Mediterranean plants often like well-drained, gritty soil and a sunny aspect, so if you have heavy soil you may be better off raising the planting area to improve drainage and also bring the plants with their flowers and foliage closer to the nose.

Scent doesn’t have to be confined to summer. Spring charmers include lilacs, daphnes and viburnums, while many spring-flowering bulbs, including hyacinths and some narcissi, are also fragrant.

And if you want to prolong your scented summer garden into autumn, plant foliage shrubs such as Elaeagnus pungens ‘Maculata’, which produces fragrant small white flowers.

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