Scent Gardens

By Kristen Castillo

February 8, 2018 5 min read

We can reap many rewards from gardening, such as beautiful flowers, delicious veggies -- and heavenly scents.

"One of the easiest ways to start a garden that smells good is to begin with herbs," says Dianne Venetta, who runs the garden blog BloominThyme. "Rosemary and basil are top of the list when it comes to scented plants and are both easy to care for, indoors or out. All they require is a sunny location, well-drained soil and consistent moisture."

Consider planting ingredients for a tasty meal.

"A pizza garden will smell amazing," says personal gardener Sandra Bach, who suggests growing tomatoes, basil, oregano, green bell peppers and onions.

*Aromatic Plants

Breathe in the fresh smells of a well-curated aroma garden.

"Some of our favorite aromatic plants include lavender, clary sage, peppermint and rose," says Cindy Jones of the Sagescript Institute, a farm-based cosmetics science company that creates skincare products from herbs and botanicals.

The company also grows cucumber, blue spruce, fennel and tulsi for their scents.

With a variety of plants growing on one plot, one might worry that the combined smells would be overwhelming. But conflicting scents are not a concern.

"I do not think that plant scents clash, and I love the look of gardens interspersed with a number of plants," says Jones. "Tall ones in the back, such as rose, and shorter ones in the front, such as peppermint and lavender." Venetta says jasmine grows "like a weed" and makes an ideal natural fence for your garden.

It's important to know what you're planting and how to maintain it. For example, Jones says, there are many types of lavender that can grow to different sizes, so do your research before you buy.

You should also know which plants pair well together. "Peppermint can get out of hand quickly, so I limit the water I give it," says Jones. "Since lavender needs very little water, peppermint is good to plant close to lavender."

Randy Schultz, master gardener and content editor of the website Home Garden and Homestead, is a fan of lavender, as well as rosemary.

"Both are woody perennials, and in the right climates and the right spots in the garden, they can live for many years," he says, noting that even when the plants aren't flowering, they smell great.

"Just brushing your hand on the plants releases a wonderful aroma," he says.

*Everything's Coming Up Roses

A great-smelling garden isn't limited to herbs.

"A fragrant flower can leave an imprint on your heart that you never forget, and every time that smell is in the air it brings a little happiness to your soul," says John Toepfer, vice president of content for gardening website Blooming Secrets.

Here are Toepfer's top five fragrant-flowers selections:

Carolina-allspice: This deciduous shrub grows in sun and shade and in a range of soil conditions. It flowers in the spring and summer and has a fruity smell. When crushed, the leaves have a spicy odor.

Easter lily: A white flower that typically blooms in spring home. Toepfer describes the scent as a "heavenly fragrance."

Gardenia: "Few flowers can rival the gardenia in terms of its beauty or fragrance," says Toepfer, who explains the bloom is highly sensitive to cold temperatures, which is why it's often a houseplant. Venetta suggests growing gardenias in a sunny spot that has good airflow. Without these ideal conditions, gardenias can get moldy.

Honeysuckle: This flowering shrub has a "distinctive and pleasing fragrance," says Toepfer. No wonder hummingbirds love its sweet blooms!

Lilac: This purple-bloomed shrub, which also has a pleasing scent, needs full sun. They make great cut flowers, too, so go ahead and clip a few from the garden to enjoy indoors. Make sure lilacs have full sun and good air circulation to prevent diseases, such as powdery mildew. Remove a third of the branches yearly after the shrub finishes blooming. That "thinning" process keeps it healthy.

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