Friday, 13 September 2013



Our summers are just too short in Scotland so we must make the most of every sunny day. Most gardens have some form of permanent plant structure to create form, boundaries, give privacy, screen eyesores or just to include some of our favourite plants. Each year we add to this a range of annuals and biennials to give colour and impact to borders, tubs and hanging baskets.
There is plenty of scope to consider scent as well as colour. Summer scents stay in the memory long after summer has gone and help to maintain pleasant thoughts of those happy days.
In the early stages of planting up the new garden or refurbishing an existing one with new plants there is a strong probability that scented trees, shrubs, roses, herbaceous plants and bulbs will be included as there are a lot of plants with scent. However once you have sorted out your favourites it is worth giving a lot of thought as to where they are best planted. If you have a sunny patio that is well used, then this is a must as well as around entrance doorways. Visitors will always be left with a good impression if they arrive amongst a strong waft of delicious perfumed plants, and sitting on the patio on sunny days is very pleasant if you can also enjoy some exotic scents.

Structure planting

Trees, large shrubs, and climbers planted along fences and on walls are all usually permanent and make a big impact on the landscape so choose the types very carefully. Many cherry trees such as Prunus Amanogawa are scented as are most lilacs, and coming down in size philadelphus may still grow very tall, but the scent is overpowering. Viburnum carlesii, juddii and carlcephallum all have a strong exotic perfume in early summer. Deciduous azaleas have a very pleasant scent of soft woodlands and coming down in scale the daphnes are one of the earliest to produce a scented flower.
House walls and all fences are perfect spaces to plant climbers or other suitable tall growing plants that can be trained to the support surfaces. There are numerous scented climbing roses and other shrub roses that can lend to being trained against a wall. My favourite pink one is Gertrude Jekyll and the Climbing sport of Ena harkness is a brilliant well formed deep red scented rose.
Honeysuckles are a must and if you have a sheltered spot try the white scented Jasminum polyanthum which can last many years but may not survive a severe frost in winter.

Beds and borders

Herbaceous and border plants are often used to bring the garden structure down to ground and lawn level and give ground cover to eliminate weeding. Flag iris, lilies, garden pinks and numerous herbs such as lavender, rosemary, thyme and mint will all add a range of different scents in early to late summer.

Tubs and hanging baskets

Most summer bedding plants are grown for sheer brilliance of colour as most do not have a scent, so I always include some blue petunias both for the deep blue colour but also for the scent. These always get planted in hanging baskets adjacent to house entrance doorways. For larger tubs try a dot plant such as the white flowered Datura, also known as Angels Trumpets, which has an exotic scent at its best in late evenings as it is trying to attract night flying moths.

Cut flower

If you have an allotment or large garden, and can afford to spare some ground for growing cut flower for the house, then plant a row of sweet peas. As you will be cutting flowering stems frequently you will not need to remove seed heads. Keep them well fed and watered and they will flower well into autumn. Border carnations are another perfect scented flower to grow for home decoration. There is a wide range of colours available and many have the strong clove scent.

Plant of the week

Shirley Poppies originated over a hundred years ago when a vicar, the Reverend William Wilks from the English parish of Shirley found attractive variations of wild field poppies which he then started to select from and breed a new strain. Over many years he established a range of colours from white, pink, mauve, red and lilac. They now come as singles, doubles and semi doubles. These annuals are easily grown from seed broadcast onto a prepared seed bed and lightly raked in. They do not need rich soil or fertiliser and even on poor soil will quickly grow and flower profusely all summer.


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