Not everything should always scream Lavender when it comes to scent, looks and bug food. Don’t get me wrong, Lavender is great, I have a few plants myself, growing happily in my veg patch. I understand the love, attraction, and excitement of dotting one’s house with heavily scented purple stems. I just know there are other plants available. Strongly scented with great blooms, good looks and easygoing personalities; all the traits we are looking for nowadays. Plants that seem to be the “full package”. So let’s go and see if any of those could potentially end up in some of your gardens or balconies. Beyond Lavender: Exploring the World of Scented Gardens!
We are naturally drawn to things with a scent that appeals to our senses. There is a range for everybody and plenty that one would never consider. But one that we agree on almost unanimously is the scent of a Lavandula plant. It is known for its calming effects and strong, clean smell that will help you fall into the arms of Morpheus. We have planted it in the garden for centuries, eager to enjoy the gorgeous fragrance. And rightly so. This is what the garden is all about, bringing us joy and letting us relax and unwind. But would you consider other options when it comes to scented greenery?
I will be honest in saying that at least half of our customers don’t realise other plants with rich, strong scents could easily grow in their gardens. Starting with Salvias of all shapes and colours. Salvia nemerosa Caradona is my first-ever favourite But Hot Lips and Love and Wishes have set their records in the centre this year. Whichever one we have on the go at any given moment, they are all worth having, for their scent is amazing. They mix well in beds and borders, upkeep is minimal and their delivery is one hundred per cent. Same goes for Nepeta or Catmint.
We all have favourites, I opt for small and manageable varieties such as Persian Blue or Kitcat. But each to their own. The last one in this scent category would have to be Perovskite or Russian Sage. This shrub is brilliant! Not only does it give off the same vibes as Lavender, but it is also much harder and taller. It adds structure to any planted bed or border. All the above plants share one common trait – they emit strong, slightly herby scents that you can use fresh or dried in your homes all year round.
I love to see a good seating area in a garden. A place to unwind and enjoy, a quiet space filled with colour and love. It is only natural for this place to have a selection of scents waiting to be discovered each time one sits to relax. And here is where personal taste plays the main part. I would like to go delicate and sweet, roses would not be out of the question, but I’d like to mix it up with a healthy dose of perennials such as Monarda, Artemisia, Yarrow, Sweet Woodruff and sweet-scented Geraniums for a stronger dose.
For me, the possibility of using foliage in one of my endless cups of tea is too good to be missed. But even something as simple as rubbing the leaf of Monarda between your fingers and enjoying the fragrance while the sun causes the roses to release their scent around you is a worthy experience. All of the above give you great colour throughout the season, are very easy to grow and again are brilliant for the small critters around you. It is also good to mention at this point: Sweet Woodruff is an evergreen herb with masses of white flowers and acts best as a ground cover plant!
And when we are talking about herbs let’s talk Lemon Verbena! This plant can be grown indoors all year round, or as an annual in the garden. (In very sheltered locations it is possible to keep Lemon Verbena all year outdoors, but it is case by case) Love the fresh light green foliage, the tiny white or lilac flowers and the scent! The scent is everything. Possibly better than any mint, or all mints together. For those of you who already have this plant, you know what I mean 🙂
All it takes is a gentle touch of the leaves and the air around you smells fresh and mouthwatering of lemon and summer. Do, research this one if you haven’t heard of it yet, it is worth having!
And apart from the obvious herbs such as Thyme, Oregano, Sage, Mint and so on (which are also great to grow), I will ramble on about Eriostemon and Caryopteris. Two great shrubs, especially for our climate. One is evergreen, with masses of tiny white flowers, grows well even at the seaside locations and smells a little bit oriental. Eriostemon is the one, and I love it for the simple reason- it is great for the ground, for a big pot, against a wall or a fence, as part of a bigger composition or on its own. You can prune them, leave them alone, and they will do their own thing. Good for winter colour, the dark green waxy leaves look good in a flower arrangement and with a bit of luck it will flower twice in the year, once in early spring and a second time in early autumn.
The second one is Caryopteris, a deciduous shrub, very hardy and easy. I enjoy the blue flowers just about this time of year- they are a magnet for butterflies! We shall mention the scent which is a bonus for us.
And so, here are a few options for scented foliage fit to be in any garden. Stunning, easy and smelly. I have promised those things at the beginning and I have delivered them. Don’t get me wrong, I am not knocking Lady Lavender off, it is good to have some of her also. I just want all to know that Lavender is not the only scented plant worth having. So have a go at doing your investigating! Because now is a great time to plant up for next season’s joy.
Magda O’ Byrne
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