A palette of perfumed plants can transform even the smallest of gardens into a sensory delight.
SCENT adds an extra dimension to a garden, turning it into a place where you linger, indulging your senses rather than rushing through to the front door or garden shed. With the wide range of temperatures in Australia, there are a huge variety of fragrant plants that can be grown. Many flower during the colder months so that even when there’s not much colour in the garden you can still have plenty of fragrance. Use plants that flower in different seasons to turn your garden into a perfumed paradise all year round. Plant
heat-loving shrubs like lavender against north facing walls and surround them with brick pavers or stone pebbles to draw out their perfume. And position night scented plants near your outdoor living spaces or windows so that you can savour their scent while relaxing in the evening.
The spectacular scented flowers of wisteria appear in spring on the bare vines, with leaves following soon afterwards. Train this climber along pergolas or fences, or keep trimmed as a shrub. Wisteria will tolerate frost but prefers a sunny spot.
If your idea of heaven is a beach in Fiji, you must plant a frangipani. The exquisite scent of this tropical shrub more than compensates for its lack of leaves in winter. You need a warm, sunny spot for frangipani; pots are best for those in colder areas so that plants can be moved to shelter in winter. Australian frangipani, an evergreen tree, has a similar scent and better tolerance of cold.
Winter flowering daphne has an unmistakable old-fashioned scent. Semi-shade is best for these shrubs with a free draining, cool and slightly acid soil. Flowers range in colour from white through to pinky red and lilac.
Citrus flowers are sweetly scented, plus there’s the bonus of delicious fruit. Citrus need plenty of moisture and food, particularly from spring until autumn. Most are vulnerable to frost, so plant in pots in cooler regions. The main flowering period is summer but some citrus varieties such as Meyer lemon will flower and fruit virtually all year.
Star jasmine Unlike the noxious jasmine, the hardy, low-maintenance climber star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) is very well-behaved. It has glossy dark green leaves and, from mid spring to late summer, is covered in deliciously scented white flowers. Star jasmine is tolerant of light to medium frost.
This is a shrub that needs plenty of TLC, but its divine fragrance is well worth the effort. Gardenias prefer fertile, acid soil, lots of moisture and part-shady conditions. Plenty of compost or other organic matter in the soil is also essential, as is shelter from frost in winter.
The sweet, old-fashioned perfume of lilac is rarely found in modern gardens, particularly in warmer areas. But they are still common in traditional gardens in cooler regions. These frost-hardy trees can vary in fragrance, so when choosing plants, do so when in flower. Lilac prefers a moist soil and will flower well after a hard frost.
The sweet scent of freesias (above), narcissus and hyacinth reminds us that spring is on its way even when trees are still bare. Freesias grow best in warmer regions while narcissus and hyacinth are frost tolerant. In small gardens, spring bulbs are best in pots so they can be moved out of sight while foliage dies down (an essential process to ensure good flowering next season).
The scent of a rose is pure joy. However not all of them suit warmer areas, and many modern hybrids lack fragrance, so select your varieties carefully. English or David Austin roses usually have good perfume, as do old-fashioned damask roses.
Of the many, many lilies you can grow in the garden, hybrids of L. regale and L. longiflorum produce the most beautiful scent. Some of the newer hybrids are less fragrant but easier to grow. You need a rich, well drained soil and plenty of moisture to grow lilies well, ideally with cool shade around the roots and flowers in the sun. Grow them in pots if your garden doesn’t suit their needs.