Planting Scented Flowers and Shrubs
Roses, gardenias, jasmine, honeysuckle and lilacs all share a single endearing value: Fragrance.
E-mail This Page to Your Friendsx
A link to %this page% was e-mailed
By Maureen Gilmer
DIY Do It Yourself Network
Each blossom provides a singular scent that may be light and spicy or heavy and sweet. The smells of such flowers evoke in our minds all kinds of memory associations. Perhaps it was grandmothers lilacs or the huge honeysuckle vine on the family farm. Jasmine or gardenia may bring to mind a romantic Hawaiian vacation or the perfume of a loved one.
Fragrant flowers are on everyone's favorite plant list. But how to use them in the landscape may be more challenging that cultivating the plant itself. Despite what you think, our landscapes are created for humans, not plants. The landscape is an outdoor living space where we tend to hang out in the warmer seasons of the year. Therefore, the choices of plants, their position and their arrangement are directly related to how we live within that landscape.
A passive space such as a lawn for lounging or a patio within a garden is made for sitting around. We may dine there, have cocktails or drink coffee in the morning. On most days the air is fairly still, which means that the presence of a fragrant plant with be quite noticeable. If there is a breeze it will be less perceptible, but the whisps of scent are often more enchanting than heavy cloying fragrance.
This is important if you're in a walled courtyard, for example. A fully blooming lilac may become overwhelming in that still air. In fact, some people find a plant they have always loved becomes so potent under these conditions, they no longer find the fragrance pleasing. On the other hand, in a landscape with good air movement, you'd want that potent lilac to ensure all the scent isn't lost to the winds.
Landscapes also include transitional spaces. These are usually walkways that connect more expansive living spaces. A side-yard walk that connects front yard to the back is a wholly transitional space because it's too narrow to do much else. This is a great opportunity to utilize fragrant flowers.
As you travel the route you will come upon a blooming plant that reaches out and grabs you with its scent. The tight conditions of a side yard also keep that fragrance in the area and makes it more concentrated. Planting numerous plants of the same type can compound the effects further.
Gates, gateways and entries are another kind of transitional space that begs for fragrant plants. One of the best reasons to erect an arch over your gates is as a support for fragrant vines. When you come to the gate this fragrance evokes a sense of arrival. Because you often have to open and close a gate to go through, you naturally slow enough to pick up a scent that's more ephemeral.
Jasmine and honeysuckle are perfect vines for arbor and arched gateways because they grow fast and cloak the structure completely. Therefore, it won't have to be expensive or elaborate in construction. Honeysuckle is perfect for country gardens and it's tough as nails once established.
There is another application for these fragrant plants that has nothing to do with outdoor living. Ground in close proximity to windows and doors into the house are prime spots for scented flowers. When in bloom the slightest breeze carries the scent indoors. When laying out your foundation planting, save your scented flowering shrubs and trees for positions relative to these portals to the house. And if you're a rose aficionado, be sure to train your most fragrant climbers up and over often-used windows.
If you are planning to redo your landscape or just add some new exciting plants. go heavy on the scented beauties. They are there strictly for your personal enjoyment. And learn the direction of the prevailing breeze at your house and remember to always plant them upwind.
(Maureen Gilmer is a horticulturist and host of Weekend Gardening on DIY-Do It Yourself Network. Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service.)
Deadheads in the garden are easier to deal with. We simply pluck them out. It is time to deadhead when flowers are tired and...