Creating a sensory garden series – smell
When we think of sensory gardens, scent is usually the first thing on our minds. Whether you catch the drift of a sweet floral fragrance or the more sharp smell of herbaceous plants, scented trees and shrubs can be a real sensory treat. We would recommend planting scented trees and shrubs near a seating area so that you can unwind with the drifting fragrances; alternatively, plant your scented shrubs along the edges of a path so that they can greet guests as they pass by.
Different flowers, big and small, have different scents. Some are sweet, light and fruity and others are much more pungent and heavy. Either way, flowers are a great way of filling your garden with fragrance.
If you have room for a tree, one of the most deliciously sweet fragrances has to come from the Cytisus battandieri, which is more commonly known as the Pineapple broom tree. This Morrocan native has vivid yellow flowers that smell like cooked pineapples: a real treat for the senses! Prunus ‘Fragrant Cloud’ is a prolific flowerer in spring and the flowers do not have the usual light fragrance of a flowering cherry tree, but instead they have a much stronger and richer floral scent. Of course, we can’t not mention magnolia flowers in this category; magnolia flowers are large and have a bold fragrance that varies between different varieties.
If you want a fragranced shrub then an unusual choice comes with Hamamelis mollis - Chinese Witch Hazel. The striking yellow flowers appear in winter and have a strong fragrance; if you want to achieve year-round interest then this is the perfect plant. Viburnums are another winning winter option for fragrance and the flower heads have a light, often honey-like, scent. Perhaps one of the most obvious choices is planting a lavender, but it should not be over-looked as it is highly popular for a reason. The deep-violet flowers are aromatic and attractive to the senses of both humans and insects alike; we really like lavenders surrounding a seating area as you can sit back and soak up the scent whilst insects and bees flock round the flowers.
Foliage is often aromatic, rather than sweet, but it can be a real delight to walk by on a windy day. One of the classic choices for aromatic foliage is the Laurus nobilis, also known as the Bay Laurel. The bay leaves are a popular choice in a herb garden and they smell even better when you pick one up and crush in it your hand. Equally, another popular plant is rosemary and we sell Miss Jessopp’s Upright’ which has a pungent scent and is great for planting in a rockery. Rosemary has many benefits and is proven to reduce levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. As well as that, rosemary repels mosquitos and other garden pests so it really will work wonders for your garden. If you’ve got room for a larger option, a eucalyptus tree can add structure, colour and foliage fragrance; the rounded leaves have a light menthol-like scent which is accentuated further when the leaves are crushed.
No matter what you choose, planting a few fragranced trees and shrubs can make your garden all the more inviting for both you and for wildlife.