We often hear the exhortation, "Stop and smell the roses!" Indeed, roses are perhaps first to come to mind when mention is made of "fragrant flowers." However, the floral world offers many other examples, and none need take a backseat to roses when it comes to aroma. So along with information on growing roses, below I give equal time to other nose pleasers, linking to resources with information on each.
If there's one fragrant flower I associate with the merry month of May, it's the bloom of lilacs. Their scent, wafted on a gentle evening breeze, and perhaps mixed with the smell of freshly mown grass, is the very essence of May:
Lilacs are fragrant flowers familiar to most everyone, even non-gardeners. But only the initiated have experienced the robust aroma of Korean spice viburnum's fragrant flowers. If you're still one of the uninitiated, my only question to you is, What are you waiting for?
Like Korean spice viburnum, daphne may not be familiar to everyone. In fact, if you've spent more time in your life in front of a TV set than out in the garden, hearing mention of "daphne" may evoke images not of a shrub, but of a character in the American TV series, Frasier! But daphne's pleasant fragrance bridges the gap nicely in my garden between the demise of Korean spice viburnum (early May) and the rise of the lilacs (later in May).
Peonies are another classic olfactory delight from the floral world. Lilacs and peonies wage an annual battle for bragging rights with my nose. Both of these fragrant flowers put forth an extraordinary effort to win me over, in late spring. But I refuse to choose between them. My attitude: let them return year after year and try to convince me which is superior, all over again! Peonies have been grown and admired for centuries, due in part to the beauty of their blooms and foliage, their fragrance and their longevity:
Many new homeowners plant those old-time favorites, the irises, remembering the fragrant flowers from their childhoods. But when selecting an iris to plant, don't be misled by thinking, "Irises are irises." If it's fragrant flowers you're after, you'll have to make that a priority during the selection process. Here's some information on an iris I've selected specifically for the way it smells:
English lavender, too, is famous for its fragrance. But in the case of English lavender, it's the dried, harvested product (used, e.g., in potpourris) that has such an impact on the olfactory nerve:
Lily-of-the-valley is filled with Old-World romance. Many of us remember the little white bells of this ground cover from our grandparents' gardens. Their aroma is powerful, and if you tend to find overly sweet fragrances "sickish," you may end up classifying them as bad-smelling flowers. One's judgment about smells is, after all, a rather personal thing. Similarly, Easter lilies pack quite an odiferous punch that is not universally admired, although many find it pleasing.
A natural in woodland gardens, a great virtue of lily-of-the-valley is that it can take more shade than many other plants will tolerate:
Perhaps those well-known lines from Shakespeare have had something to do with the rose's becoming the standard by which other fragrant flowers are judged:
What's in a name? That which we call a roseMy guide to the basics of growing roses is designed for those who wish to cut to the chase for an answer to the simple question, "What do I need to do to begin growing roses?" Just the basic considerations here; you can graduate to more detailed guides later. Requirements for soil, irrigation, spacing and sunlight are discussed:
By any other name would smell as sweet.