How to plant a fragrant garden – five plants for year-long aromatic pleasure

Bring a whole new dimension to the pleasure you get from your garden by incorporating a host of fragrant flowers to scent the air all day long

The secret to having a garden that appeals to more of your senses is to choose scented flowers that bloom at different times of the year, and give perfume at different times of the day. Right now it's easy as there are so many different options, a huge range of scented plants are in bloom this month so you'll be spoiled for choice, but there are also plenty of delights to be had in spring and autumn.


Even something as simple as sniffing freshly-mown grass can make you feel good because delicious smells affect the limbic system, which in turn can influence your heart rate and stress levels, so a few minutes relaxing in a scented garden every day can boost your well-being. But not everyone enjoys the same smells – some people find lilacs overpowering for example, while others might find rosemary a bit medicinal. If you're not sure which blooms to plant in your plot, now is the perfect time to get to a garden centre and spend an hour or so savouring the different options for yourself.


Interestingly, some perfumes take time to develop, so certain flowers such as chocolate cosmos can smell more appealing from a distance. Others may be better in the morning or evening, depending upon the effects of sunlight on the volatile oils in the flowers or leaves that create the scent, evening primrose and night scented stocks are a must if you enjoy sitting out after dark. Once planted, get into the habit of stopping to smell plants as well as looking at them – it's moments like these that can provide little extra treats to brighten up your day. An added bonus is that the plants that smell enticing to us are also often alluring to bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects. At night they'll attract moths, which in turn are a lure for bats, so fragrant gardens are also great for wildlife.

See:Garden trends for 2020 – The latest garden design ideas


When choosing what varieties to buy, think carefully about where you can plant them to make the most of their perfume. For example, lavender planted on either side of a path is popular for good reason as you brush the blooms as you pass and so release the scent. Thyme planted inbetween paving slabs gives off a subtle aroma as you walk across it. You could also have scented climbers such as honeysuckle or chocolate vine near the windows of your home, or next to your favourite seating areas. Most scented plants like a warm, sunny spot – but not all – so look at the planting instructions carefully before you buy.

(Image credit: Mark Bolton)


Here are our favourite scented flowers – guaranteed to create a fragrant garden.


Some of the more scented roses are also the most beautiful. For example 'Lady of Shalott', from David Austin, has exquisite colouring and a complex fragrance of apples and cloves to match. Very hardy, it's an ideal choice for new gardeners.

How to plant a fragrant garden

(Image credit: Mark Bolton)

See:How to look after roses – with tips from a National Trust gardening expert


All 300 or so the different varieties in the family that includes pinks, and carnations are very easy to grow, and many have the distinctive heady scent of cloves. Many are quite low-growing, so make a point of picking some so that you can enjoy the flowers and fragrance up close.

How to plant a fragrant garden

(Image credit: Sak)


From the stately, classic Madonna lilies to the shamelessly showy blooms of the Stargazers, many lilies offer a double whammy of stunning flowers and a heady fragrance. In fact it can be overwhelming if you plant too many near the patio, so dot them in groups of three in key places.

How to plant a fragrant garden

(Image credit: David Giles)


Also known as filipendula, this tall, graceful perennial has a lovely fresh aroma and the white or pink plumes are offset by beautiful ferny foliage. It prefers a moist, but freely-draining soil and light shade. You can help to keep the soil moist by offering a generous layer of mulch.

How to plant a fragrant garden

(Image credit: Allan Pollok-Morris)


There are versions of these cottage garden favourites to suit just about any plot, from the low growing forms that are so handy at the front of the border to the stately forms with huge mounds of flowers that hold their own at the back. Not all of them are scented so look out for 'Mount Fuji.'

How to plant a fragrant garden

(Image credit: Amateur Gardening)

Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.