Edited by Dayle Cheever.
What plants are you growing? What is your favorite scent from your garden and why?
Exciting spring smells waft through wide open windows…
–David J. Beard (1947–2016)
Charlotte Getz: Fragrant plants now in my garden are sweet peas and a recently planted Lavender Lady lilac that is beginning to bloom. It is mildly fragrant, but not like lilacs that I had in my yard growing up in Indiana, which were fragrant throughout the house in bouquets.
Linda Chisari: Freesias, lemon verbena, and lemon thyme.
Andrea Wagman-Christian: Jasmine, stock, roses, and Mexican marigold (Tagetes lemmonii).
Candace Kohl: I have a section of the garden where I focus on scented plants. Star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides), white jasmine (Jasmine polyanthum), heliotrope, lavender, and a grafted gardenia are among the ones consistently growing there. I also grow some orchids that are quite fragrant; I always forget which ones they are and am happily surprised when I bring them in the house. My favorite fragrant roses are Neptune, Yves Piaget, and L.D. Braithwaite.
Gerald D. Stewart: Gerald says it should be no surprise to anyone who knows him that his favorite aromatic plants are the pleasantly-scented Pelargonium, aka scented geraniums. Two cultivars that always prompt a quick brushing when passing are Old Fashioned Rose and super lemon-scented Mabel Grey. Both will reach six to seven feet in time, barring any killer frosts (below freezing for a period of time, or below 25 degrees Fahrenheit). Old Fashioned Rose is a great foliage filler for a rose bouquet, adding proper scent as well as covering the rose stems. Long ago, Gerald steeped the leaves of Mabel Grey to make a lemon sorbet with great depth in the flavor profile.
Sherrill Leist: Gardenia jasminoides ‘First Love’ (Aimee) has four- to five-inch blossoms, with strong delightful perfume. Not blooming yet this year, but I am looking forward to its beautiful flowers and delightful fragrance.
Janet Ward: I have pink Jasmine vines (Jasminum polyanthum) by my front door and by the door to the back yard. They are both blooming right now, and the wonderful fragrance is noticeable the minute I walk out either door! Such a great reminder that spring is here. Also, I have citrus trees (orange, lemon, lime) that are blooming now and even though they are on a downhill slope at least one hundred feet from my back door, the potent fragrance wanders up the hill and lingers in the back yard.
Carrie Seeman: When my citrus trees are blooming, the scent is wonderfully intoxicating.
Al Myrick: We grow a few sages (e.g., Salvia clevelandii) and a wonderful camphor tree, but I really like the leaves and young stems or our 125-foot giant blue gum eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus). Every time I rake or prune, the area is filled with a fresh, minty scent.
Cindy Sparks: By far my favorite smelly is Provence lavender. It is used in France in the perfuming industry for good reason. Outstanding aroma, reliable grower in the ornamental garden, does not die out and get woody in the middle. It will take snow (though not in MY location) along with heat or coastal fog.
Donna McClay: Rosemary and sweet peas.
Sharon Ward: My yard is scented with freesias and when I walk through my gate, I brush against rosemary. Lemon geranium grows next to my covered patio and Meyer lemons are hanging on the tree across my yard. I love living here where things grow year-round.
Susan Starr: My favorite is Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (Brunfelsia pauciflora). Mine is just starting to bloom. The flowers open deep lavender, fade to light lavender, and then turn white, which is why it’s called Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. When it is covered with flowers, usually in April, the scent fills my front patio. It has flowers most of the year along with beautiful bright green leaves, but is briefly deciduous in winter. I have it in a pot, under an overhang, facing west. I think these plants do best in pots, as they like good drainage and more water and fertilizer than most things in my garden.
Sue Fouquette: It’s hard to choose. I like the smell of kaffir lime (Citrus hystrix) leaves when rubbed. Also, angel’s trumpet (Brugmansia sp.) flowers, in the later part of the day. Also, some of my husband, Charley’s, orchids.
Mollie Allan: My favorite smell in the garden right now is the scent of orange blossoms. We have one old tree laden with flowers that perfumes the entire area, welcoming and enveloping us as we depart and come home.
Susi Torre-Bueno: I try to have at least one scented plant in each area of my garden. Some of my favorites are: Single yellow freesia (Freesia cv.)—blooms late in winter, nice cut flower, summer-dormant. White heliotrope (Heliotropium arborescens ‘Alba’)—lovely soft scent, which is not very strong; does best with some shade (in Vista). Brugmansias (Brugmansia cv.)—several varieties bloom on and off all year long and are scented only at night. Dr. Seuss is especially fragrant.
Catherine Tylka: This is not rare, but it is wonderful. I have rosemary in several areas. I bring some fresh into the house weekly....so wonderful! Second favorite is my Cleveland sage, in flower or even dried, fab smell. And then, there's the geraniums; I love the chocolate and lemon scented ones. And, further, orange blossoms...I hear wedding bells. Yes, I do love the smell of my home.