Your Garden: 6 Fragrant Plants Surprise and Delight

One of the secrets to a successful garden design is to incorporate something sudden, a surprise for your garden visitor. This can be done in lots of ways, but one surefire way to enliven a garden and create interest is to use scented plants. Most of us might envision a scented garden full of floral blossoms in summer time. Although scented flowers can make a fantastic addition to a landscape, the blooms are short lived and can be difficult to integrate into more contemporary designs. Plus, where is the feeling of surprise and mystery?

Thankfully, there are a number of fantastic plants with aromatic foliage which supply an unexpected experience. Let us examine a few of the finest I’ve come across.

Debra Prinzing

Katsura Tree
(Cercidiphyllum japonicum)

I really like using these trees in projects due to their graceful, arching branches and brightly colored oval-shaped leaves. As a bonus, when fall rolls around, Katsura trees placed on an olfactory show which will stop you in your tracks. As their leaves turn colour, they release the rich odor of burnt sugar filling the garden with a odor that smells exactly like a kitchen in Christmas.

Where it will grow: USDA zones 4 to 9 (find your zone)
Soil requirement: Moist, well-drained, somewhat acidic to neutral soil
moderate requirement: Does best in partial shade; will withstand full sun with ample water
Size: 40 to 50 feet; slow growing

Glenna Partridge Garden Design

Peanut Butter Plant
(Melianthus major)

This unique shrub has amazing blue-green textured leaves which add drama to any perennial bed. When the leaves are crushed, the truly extraordinary feature of this plant presents itself : It releases the distinctive odor of peanut butter, making it a direct garden favorite.

Try combining Melianthus with American bugbane (Cimicifuga racemosa), an herbaceous perennial with sweet jelly-scented blossoms, to get a peanut butter and jelly garden!

Caution: This plant shouldn’t be ingested.

Where it will rise: Zones 8 to 11
Soil requirement: Moist, well-drained soil
moderate requirement: Partial shade to full sun
Size: 6 to 8 feet tall; moderate grower

Matt Kilburn

Pineapple Sage
(Salvia elegans)

This herb has quickly become one of my favorites in small gardens, due to its many uses. Its citrus-green leaves contrast well with those of different plants, its blossoms attract butterflies and hummingbirds, and its simple expansion means anyone can successfully grow it.

The showstopping feature is that the leaves; as the name suggests they smell strongly of lemon. The powerful odor implies that the leaves make for a fantastic herbal tea or addition to salads. Try adding this specimen to your own herb garden and revel in its distinctive aroma and taste in a wide variety of applications.

Where it will grow: Zones8 to 11; grow as an annual in colder climates
Soil requirement: Well-drained soil
moderate requirement: Total sun
Size: 3 to 4 feet tall; fast growing

Amy Renea

Lemon Balm
(Melissa officinalis)

This old favorite is just another fantastic aromatic addition to the herb garden. Extremely easy to grow and very low maintenance, lemon balm was used in medieval times to reduce tension and anxiety and promote sleep. Its pungent lemon odor means that it makes for a wonderful tea, and its blossoms are a favorite of bees and other pollinators. Be careful where you plant lemon balm, though, since it’s a voracious grower and will take over your herb garden if not kept in check. (Try growing it in baskets near your herb garden to enjoy the benefits without having the fear of its taking over.)

Where it will rise: Zones4 to 9
Soil requirement: Well-drained soil
moderate requirement: Partial to full sun
Size: 1 foot to 11/2 feet tall; fast growing

Missouri Botanical Garden

Chocolate Mint
(Mentha piperita spp)

Of the many mint options available, among the most unusual varieties has a fantastic chocolate tinge to its own odor. It’s definitely more of a hint of chocolate in relation to an overpowering odor, however, chocolate is always a crowd pleaser. As with aloe vera, chocolate mint ought to be grown in a contained environment, or it can overtake your garden. But growing it into a pot is well worth it, though, since this mint will make the most wonderful mojito you have ever had!

Where it will grow: Zones3 to 7
Soil requirement: Well-drained soil
moderate requirement: Partial to full sun
Size: two feet tall; fast growing

Stephen W. Hackney Landscape Architecture

Curry Plant
(Helichrysum italicum)

This streamlined Mediterranean tree has narrow silver-gray leaves that smell strongly of curry once brushed. Its simple rise and drought tolerance make it a fantastic choice for a sunny spot in the garden — plus, it seems amazing planted en masse.

The similarity to curry is purely aromatic; Helichrysum doesn’t possess a particularly strong flavor and isn’t an appropriate substitution for curry powder.

Where it will rise: Zones7 to 11
Soil requirement: Well-drained neutral to alkaline soil
moderate requirement: Partial to full sun
Size: 1 to 2 feet tall; fast growing

More: Herb Garden Essentials: Grow Your Own Delicious Mint

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