Whether it’s the warm woody aroma of lavender, the rich intoxicating scent of buddleia or the sweet heady fragrance of honeysuckle, scented plants are a must-have for borders, window boxes, patios or balconies. Not only do they make your outside space look wonderful and smell delightful, but they also provide welcome sustenance for pollinators such as bees and butterflies.
To make the most of this plethora of natural perfumes, plant them in the places where you can be close. Window boxes, patio pots and outside your door are ideal, the aromas can travel inside your home on the gentlest of breezes. Alternatively, placing these plants around a bench allows you to surround yourself with scent, or adding them along pathways allows their fragrance to escape as you brush against them.
Summertime walks in suburban streets and strolls in the countryside are abundant with fragrance to inspire you, but there are plenty of plants that deliver beautiful aromas during the other three seasons of the year. Discover how to create a year-round festival of fragrance for your garden with our list of scented plants by month and discover the sweet-smelling plants that will add colour and fragrance to your outdoor space throughout autumn, winter, spring and summer.
Meteorological spring – March, April and May – is the time of year when our gardens, warmed by the ever-nearing sun, start to come alive and fill the air with fresh, new fragrance. What better way to enjoy getting back out there, than if you’re accompanied by the beautiful aromas of plants like Gold-edged Winter Daphne, Chocolate Vine, Sweet Peas and Clematis?
Gold-edged winter daphne – this shrub boasts red-purple flowers with pale centres that bloom in February and March with a sweet and spicy perfume.
Hyacinths – well known for their ability to flower early when forced, these much-loved flowers bloom naturally in March and April in a vast array of colours – lilac, pink, white, cobalt blue, cream, apricot and red – and offer a sweet lingering fragrance.
Native bluebells – commonly seen as a carpet of blue in ancient woodland, planting these delightful bulbs in your own outside space will ensure it comes alive with colour in April and May and also filled with their sweet, fresh fragrance.
Chocolate vine – boasting a heady aroma that reminds you of delicious Belgian chocolate, these chocolate maroon flowers appear in April to get your tastebuds tingling.
Mexican Orange Aztec Pearl – this easy-to-grow evergreen shrub starts blooming in May with pretty, pink-tinged buds that grow into white flowers with a rich sweet orange blossom scent.
Clematis Montana Elizabeth – one of the easier clematis to grow, this variety is May flowering and produces blooms with a sweet, vanilla-fudge fragrance.
Sweet peas – this annual climbing plant produces pink, purple and white, highly scented flowers in May with a fragrance that is reminiscent of sweet honey and citrus.
Sweetshrub Venus – this deciduous shrub boasts large white or purple flowers each May that produce an intense watermelon and strawberry fragrance.
June, July and August are the months when we get to really enjoy our outdoor space, soaking up the sunshine and listening to the birdsong as we relish the rewards of the previous months’ hard work. Imagine reading a book, enjoying breakfast or doing a spot of weeding and feeding wrapped up in the wonderful scents of plants like Common Broom, Hidcote Lavender and night-scented Tobacco Grandiflora….
Peony Hermione – this double-bloom variety produces highly scented large pale pink flowers in June that proffer a scent that boasts a mix of rose and jasmine but a little bit sweeter.
Common Broom – this wiry shrub produces an abundance of brilliant yellow flowers in May and June that offer a light yet distinctive, sweet, vanilla-like fragrance.
Hidcote Lavender – this variety of evergreen shrub, produces dense spikes of tiny purple flowers from June to September over silver-green highly scented foliage. Deadheading will produce more flower spikes.
False Acacia – this busy tree produces pendulous racemes of pale yellow or pink flowers that bloom from May to July and boast a sweet fragrance reminiscent of orange blossom.
Tobacco plant Grandiflora – renowned for their large white trumpet-shaped flowers that bloom from July to September, with a warm, spicy aromatic that will fill the evening air with a heady fragrance.
Bergamot – Cambridge scarlet variety is a herbaceous perennial that will produce tall stems bearing a large number of tubular, scarlet red flowers that create a shaggy dome, flowering from June to August. The leaves are aromatic and smell of basil and mint, similar to earl grey tea.
Buddleia – known as the butterfly bush, buddleia can be seen all over the country from derelict buildings to railway lines and more unusual places. This fast-growing shrub produces long tapered panicles at the end of its branches between July and September that produce a powerful sweet honey-like fragrance.
September, October and November are an exciting time for the garden, the transition from green to autumnal tones is swift and dramatic, but ultimately beautiful. As you’re catching the last few warm days, raking leaves and getting the last lawn-mow in, do it enveloped in the fragrant smells of plants like Salvia, Abelia, Lilac and Camellia.
Salvia ‘Hot Lips‘ – a bushy evergreen perennial bearing small aromatic leaves with a fruity scent, reminiscent of blackcurrants, and large open-mouthed red and white flowers that bloom from June to October.
Abyssinian Gladiolus – boasting long grassy, sword-shaped leaves and spikes of fragrant white tubular flowers with a maroon-purple blotch in the throat. On arching slender tubes these flowers add movement to borders and a sweet, fresh fragrance to the air from August to October.
Daphne Eternal Fragrance – this compact, semi-evergreen shrub produces dark green leaves and clusters of white/flushed pink highly fragrant tubular flowers that bloom with new growth. Enjoy their powerful nutmeg, honeysuckle aroma from April to October.
Abelia Grandiflora Confetti – this dwarf evergreen shrub is slow growing with variegated, green and white, foliage and produces lightly scented flushed pink flowers from July to October that offer a fragrance similar to lilacs. Note: the sunnier the aspect, the more flowers you will get!
Giant Hyssop Blackadder – this herbaceous perennial produces blue-black spikes packed with tiny blue flowers that bloom in September and October. Its clump of fragrant foliage offers a scent reminiscent of anise or liquorice.
Lilac Pink Perfume – an easy-to-grow deciduous shrub that has an initial flush of panicles of pale pink flowers in mid to late spring, and then intermittently until October, offering a sweet and intense lilac perfume.
Sweet Bay – one of the oldest cultivated plants, Bay’s deep green leaves can be clipped to create a decorative accent to patios in pots. Blooming between March and May with small yellow flowers, it’s the aromatic leaves that offer the herbal, slightly floral scent that you will enjoy.
Camellia Sparkling Burgundy – also known as Winter Blooming Camelia, this evergreen shrub has glossy, leathery dark green leaves and large showy blooms that flower from October to January, producing a light, pleasant floral fragrance.
The winter months of December, January and February are quieter times in our gardens. The local territorial robin seems to be doing most of the hard work until the first snowdrops begin to poke through the frozen ground. But if you do venture outdoors, on those crisp cool sunny days, do so surrounded by the beautiful perfume of plants like Winter Beauty Honeysuckle, American Witch Hazel and Mahonia.
Honeysuckle Winter Beauty – this spreading semi-evergreen shrub is a must-have for your winter garden, producing a multitude of highly fragrant creamy-white flowers with bright yellow anthers from November to March, that offer a sweet, jasmine-like fragrance.
Wintersweet – this slow-growing shrub is aptly named for its highly scented, pale yellow waxy flowers with purple centres, which appear on bare stems from December to February. Their sweet and spicy fragrance is what makes this plant a real winter garden showstopper.
American Witch Hazel – the Hamamelis x intermedia Pallida variety produces spidery sulphur-yellow flowers boasting a soft, sweet and spicy fragrance between January and February.
Winter Jasmine – a medium-sized deciduous shrub that produces small yellow trifoliate flowers that appear along long arching bare branches from November to March. Their light aroma is fresh and clean, like crisp winter air.
Daphne bholua – also called Nepalese paper plant, this evergreen shrub boasts long, oval leathery leaves and clusters of pretty, pink and white, highly fragrant flowers that offer an intense fragrance in February and March.
Mahonia – an easy-to-grow evergreen shrub that boasts tough, spiny leaves and bright racemes or clusters of brilliant-yellow, fragrant flowers, which appear from December to February, offering a gentle fragrance reminiscent of lily of the valley.
Sweet Box – a bushy evergreen shrub with leathery leaves and small highly scented creamy-white flowers that offer a power-packed sweet honey fragrance from December to March, followed by glossy, black berries, great for wildlife.
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