Many of the flowers that grow in gardens nowadays have lost their scent that they once had because of hybridization, and over production. Heirloom varieties, or garden varieties, often carry the strongest fragrances. You can see this most with roses. We all imagine that every rose has a strong fragrance, while in fact, most no longer have a scent at all. Finding plants that are truly fragrant for your landscape design can be tricky, but having a yard that smells like a cottage garden is well worth the effort. Pollinators, birds, and butterflies are also attracted to fragrance, so you can expect to see more wildlife in your garden simply by searching out fragrant plants.
For roses, try to find heirloom or garden variety roses as these generally have the strongest fragrance. Garden roses are impressive not only for their fragrance, but also for their appearance. Most common roses have only one or two dozen petals per bloom and generally grow one bloom at a time on a single stem and tend to last not much longer that a week. Garden roses often have 3-4 dozen petals per bloom, many blooms per stem, and tend to outlast common roses. Some roses, like David Austin roses, have been cultivated for their scent, and are a good choice too, coming in a range of bloom sizes and colors.
Herbs like lavender, mint, rosemary, basil, oregano, and thyme make for a beautifully fragrant garden, and can be planted all together, or divided out across a garden space to add texture and scent to various areas. Lavender and thyme are especially hardy, and can be placed in higher traffic areas where their fragrance will be released as they are jostled. Some varieties of thyme can even be planted on or near pathways, between pavers or stepping-stones, and release their fragrance when jostled or traveled over.
Other fragrant flowers that are easy to grow and make impressive additions to a garden include phlox, sweet peas, sweet alyssum, lilac, peonies, oriental lilies, daphne, viburnum, and certain varieties of dianthus. Lighter flowers, specifically white flowers, often have the strongest fragrance, and you will find that the fragrance of any given plant changes greatly in strength dependent on the time of day and even the weather. Plants generally smell the strongest in early morning or late evening, and right after a light rain.
Having a fragrant garden is well worth the work, and lets you enjoy your yard on a whole new level. A beautifully landscaped garden, however that may look to you, is always nice, but one that smells and offers you enjoyment through fragrant flowers and blooms is every gardener’s dream. Having flowers and plants that are fragrant also allows you to have a wide selection of plants that you can cut and bring indoors during the growing season to make your indoor areas smell as beautiful as your garden outdoors. Pollinators will frequent your garden more often, and you will want to spend much more time outside enjoying the smells.