Fragrant Garden Ideas

For many plant lovers, scent plays an important role in enjoying a garden. Fragrance adds an ineffable, almost magical quality to a planting scheme, enhancing the beauty of the flowers by the addition of pleasantly scented breezes wafting from the direction of the garden. Fragrant flowers thus are able to simultaneously appeal to two of our senses, instead of just one. A fragrant garden also has a wonderful ability to trigger memory -- so often the flower fragrances that most appeal to us are the ones that we loved as children.

Leaves can be scented as well as flowers, as any lover of herbs may attest. The fragrances of lavender and of sweetbriar roses rise from the leaves as well as the flowers, and plants such as mints and scented geraniums are often grown for the pleasant smell their leaves produce when rubbed. Many plants keep their scent well enough to be dried and used in the making of potpourri -- a way of keeping the reminder of one's fragrant garden around through the entire year.


You won't be able to smell them, but hopefully the plants and flowers in our garden photos -- along with our fragrant garden ideas -- will get you on the way to the spectacular sensory experience this sort of planting can provide.

Garden Ideas Image Gallery

The white flowers of tall Nicotiana sylvestris have aptly been compared to bursts of fireworks. Like the fireworks they resemble, they really come into their own at dusk, standing out in the border and sharing their perfume more freely after dark. Here they are accompanied by other fragrant plants, including their smaller relatives N. alata, petunias, and pungent but pleasant marigolds.

If flowers are your focus, continue to the next page to explore your options in the world of scented blooms.

A heavenly scent is but one way to select the plants for your garden. Find other potential garden themes and ideas at these photo-rich spots:


Fragrant Flower Garden Ideas

Beautiful blooms like roses are enchanting even without their smell, but add their perfume to a breezy day and you may never leave your fragrant flower garden. And if roses seem a little daunting, don't despair, there are plenty of hardy and easy-to-grow fragrant flowers that will enhance your garden with their colors, shapes, and scents. Choosing what to plant is a bit like mixing perfume, so don't be afraid to get creative! Use our garden photos and fragrant flower garden ideas for inspiration.

This romantically designed garden setting features sweetly scented flowers, both tender and hardy. One of the most fragrant and loved of all, the rose, appears prominently in shades of pink, red, and white. Modern hybrid tea roses have brighter colors and a longer season of bloom, but old roses have no equals for fragrance. Citrus trees, represented here by a pair of standard lemons, have aromatic flowers as well as fruit and may be pot-grown in the north.


The perfume from a large mixed border such as this can be heaven on a warm summer day, when the heat brings out delicious fragrances from both leaf and petal. This border includes Bright Eyes phlox, purple-leaved Perilla fruticosa, and the white, lily-scented trumpets of Royal Standard hostas.

Perhaps you often enjoy your garden in the evening... On the next page you'll learn to maximize the sensory experience by selecting fragrant flora that offer their best at night.

A heavenly scent is but one way to select the plants for your garden. Find other potential garden themes and ideas at these photo-rich spots:


Night-Scented Garden Ideas

Pippa Sandford.

If your backyard garden is where you unwind in the evening after work, careful selection of the plants you place there can easily enhance your experience. A number of fragrant florals release their perfumes more strongly after dark, and many of these night-scented garden selections also bloom in light colors, so they're easily seen -- and may even appear illuminated -- as the sun fades. The garden photos and night-scented garden ideas that follow will help you begin to envision your sensory escape.

Unusually shaped and brightly colored, irises are easily compelling to daytime garden visitors. But as day gives way to night, they give forth a rich fragrance, which makes them that much more enjoyable during evening hours.


Dana McMahan

The angels trumpet is named for its large and elegant flowers, but it also emits a heavenly scent, which becomes more pronounced as evening arrives. An assortment of lush green ferns also planted in this night-scented garden ensures that it has excellent daytime appeal as well.

Some plants don't confine their fragrance to their flowers -- and these can be useful for cooking as well. On the next page, learn about fragrant foliage to plant in your garden.

A heavenly scent is but one way to select the plants for your garden. Find other potential garden themes and ideas at these photo-rich spots:


Fragrant Foliage Garden Ideas

From peppery and minty herbs to scented geraniums, which offer fragrance from both flowers and leaves, there's quite a selection of plants out there that do not rely on blossoms for their sensational smell. Not only do the assorted sizes and shapes of these plants' leaves make them visually interesting, many of the herbs add a fresh touch to concoctions in the kitchen, and -- of course -- a scented breeze coming from the garden makes the environment even more inviting. The garden photo and fragrant foliage garden ideas here can help get you on your way to a functional, sweet-smelling backyard garden.

Some scented geraniums have attractive flowers in addition to their fragrant foliage. A broad range of leaf shapes and scents is available, and a collection of these plants (tender pot plants in cold-winter areas) makes a lovely, varied, and fragrant picture. Here, the large velvety leaves of peppermint-scented Pelargonium tomentosum mingle with rose-scented, lavender-bloomed P. capitatum to bedeck a white picket fence.


Day or night, feast your nose and your eyes when you choose fragrant flowers and foliage that maximize the sensory experience offered by your garden.

Learn which plants are best for a fragrant garden in the next section.

A heavenly scent is but one way to select the plants for your garden. Find other potential garden themes and ideas at these photo-rich spots:


Plants for a Fragrant Garden

The grandiflora rose is a cross that produces long stems and beautiful blooms.

­­Plants for a fragrant garden include not only those whose blossoms smell heavenly but whose leaves smell equally lovely. The beauty of a garden is that it appeals to the sense of smell as well as the sense of sight.

If only the rose springs to mind when you contemplate a fragrant garden, be prepared to be delighted. There are other, less demanding plants that smell as fragrant and look as delicate.


Angel's Trumpet, Trumpet Flower, Horn of Plenty

­A tropical flower, angel's trumpet produces a long, elaborately shaped blossom.


This erect, bushy plant bears flowers of a light purple hue.

Garden Phlox

This perennial is easy to grow, and not only does it smell wonderful, it adds a burst of color to a garden.

Grandiflora Roses

With the long stem of a tea rose and a gorgeous floribunda bloom, this cross is easier to grow than other roses.


The smell of this fragrant herb is pleasant and soothing. So it's not surprising that it's used as a fragrance in everything from bath oil to perfume.


These shrubs can grow extremely tall, providing a garden with height as well as a sweet smell.

Nicotiana, Flowering Tobacco

This pretty flower is a relative of the plant grown for tobacco used in cigarettes; however, its smell is sweet and its color is bright.


Peonies produce large blooms -- approximately four to six inches wide, and the smell is divine.


Known for its metallic purple leaves, perilla grows extremely easily.

Rose Geranium

Incredibly aromatic, this plant is lends it scent to perfumes, potpourris, and oils.

Salvia, Meadow Sage

This plant comes in various sizes and colors, and it includes the sage used for cooking purposes.


With a wild and shrubby look, this plant produces small globes of yellow flowers.


Winter Jasmine

This plant can grow over 15 feet tall when planted with a trellis. It blooms in the late winter or early spring.

A heavenly scent is but one way to select the plants for your garden. Find other potential garden themes and ideas at these photo-rich spots: