Breathing Room

By Kristen Castillo

February 24, 2017 5 min read

Whether you're an avid gardener or you simply love pretty blooms, sweet-smelling flowers are a lovely natural aesthetic for your lawn and garden. It is a well-known fact that scents are not only tied to memories but they also have the ability to alter our moods. What do you want to cultivate with fragrant plants in your garden? Stress relief? Relaxation? Comfort? Consider these ideas to transform your garden.

"Gardening and adding fragrant flowers just brings a landscape to life," says Elizabeth Dodson, co-founder of HomeZada, a digital home management solution. She plants jasmine in her backyard and watches it grow beautifully up a trellis. Jasmine has a sweet scent that particularly stands out at night. According to an article in the Telegraph titled "Smell of jasmine 'as calming as valium,'" jasmine's scent is known to influence the limbic system of the body, which controls emotions. It is often seen as a natural remedy for stress, anxiety, fatigue and depression.

Roses are another beautiful bloom in Dodson's yard. She likes them for their subtle sweet scent, not to mention their classic beautiful. Like jasmine, rose scent is known to have a calming quality. Travis Zboch, who works with Brighter Blooms Nursery, one of the nation's leading online gardening suppliers, points out Sunny Knock Out Roses as colorful yellow roses that smell like citrus and bloom like crazy. As an added bonus, they are drought-resistant.

If a more bold aesthetic appeals to you, Erin Romine of Easy to Grow Bulbs suggests freesias. This perennial is a delicate flower with a vibrant color statement. If you like lilies, you will likely be drawn to freesia's spring scent. "The fragrance is clear, strong and lovely," Romine says, noting that freesias' leaves are not interesting for the first 90 days. She advises gardeners to place the container in the sun and just wait, for "Once they bloom, the fragrance is heavenly and you will want to move the container with you as you tend your garden or dine al fresco." Visit a florist to purchase this lively flower.

For a citrusy scent in your yard, the evergreen shrub Fragrant Tea Olive may be just right. Zboch recommends planting a few of these. "In the spring and fall, these plants are covered with thousands of tiny, white, fragrant blooms that pack a punch," he says. According to the Brighter Blooms website, some customers have said they can smell a row of these shrubs from up to 100 feet away! They bloom sporadically through the summer and again in fall.

The color pop offered by the stunningly purple petunia Evening Scentsation is accompanied by a strong fragrance. With notes of rose, hyacinth and sweet honey, the scent is stronger at night than during the day. All-American Selections, an independent testing organization of flower and edible varieties in North America, picks testing winners each year. Gail Pabst of AAS noted, "Evening Scentsation is the first petunia to receive an AAS award for its lovely fragrance and stunning color." It is available in seeds and plants from mail-order companies and retailers.

Herbs have wonderfully unique aromatics that can be enjoyed in the landscape as well as in cooking. Dodson plants rosemary, lemon verbena and mint in her backyard. Some herbs are hearty and can survive most winters, allowing them to bloom again in spring and summer.

Though garlic scent seems an unattractive choice for a garden, it can serve a rather important purpose. Dodson plants Society Garlic, an attractive ornamental plant, in her front yard. The leaves have a garlicky odor. "It is a beautiful flower and I use it to keep the deer from eating other areas of my landscape like my roses," she says. Plant just enough of this varietal, and it will look nice and keep your garden free of critters without overpowering houseguests.

These ideas will help transform your garden into a delight for the nose as well as the eyes. Visit your local plant nursery to see which plants work best in your local environment.

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