Garden Smells (Patty)

Is it just me, or does it seem like we aren’t getting a lot of exciting new releases right now?  So I’m looking at a couple of flankers, thinking about reviewing them and just sighing out of boredom.

It’s much more exciting to be planning what flowers are going in this year and where and how to get some more amazing smells going on in my yard.  I’ve yapped on and on about my daphne forever and think I finally have a place to put another one. They need full, unadulterated sunlight, southern facing, and their feet do not want to be wet even a little, so best to build it right at the top of a little slope so all the water runs off. Now that I’ve got the exact parameters figured out – plants, sheesh!  But I went to the store and grabbed some peony blooms for my vases, and I always forget how great they smell.  Now I need some of those in my garden.

And we have finally sectioned off a part of the yard enough to keep the bulldog out, who chews everything. he was even chewing on young rose plants, which some survived long enough to get some serious thorns, so he leaves them alone now. So now we’re planning that whole area again – for the 6th time, I think – but the rest of the area that used to be grass will now be a container veggie garden.

If you knew how much I hated gardening when I grew up on the farm, you’d know how really funny that is.  Here’s what we have planted or are planning on planting – heirloom purple tomatoes, golden beets and those striped beets (I looooooove beets, I can happily roast them and eat them daily), arugula, orange bell peppers,  herbs, maybe cucumbers.  What else? I’m also planning on doing something between the pots, like a walkway through the pots and maybe a bunch of lavender?  Heather?  Tall grass?  I’d like to have more smells, so the lavender appeals to me.  But I want a lot of visual interest with different heights.

So all you gardeners and flower people out there, is there one vegetable or smelly flower I just have to have? I’m zone 5, so it can’t be all the big old white flowers I’d be inundated with if I lived in the south.

We haven’t done a giveaway in a while. I don’t have anything specific to give away, but I’ll give three commenters a surprise little sample pack of some new things I find around that are interesting.

  • dissed says:

    Agree with the spicebush, it’s wonderful. You’ll want herbs, particularly winter-hardy things like rosemary. My oregano and marjoram come back every year, and I can’t live without plenty of basil. All smell and taste incredible. Can you grow four o’clocks there? They will open as soon as they’re a bit shaded from the sun, and they stay open all night. Mine began as yellow, pink, and white; they’ve crossed and I now get striped flowers in all three colors. The scent is wonderful.

  • CM says:

    We had tree lined streets growing up – crab apples and green apples – and the sweet scent of the blossoms, both pink and white, filled the air. After a week or so, it would “snow” as the petals dropped off. Lilacs then started blooming filling kitchen table vases with bunches of purple flowers.

  • Nancy G says:

    If you want a really interesting smell and have some patience, get a catalpa tree. The flowers are lovely and have a scent like nothing I can describe. I agree about the witch hazels, too. But something you can do this year is plant Chinese Trumpet lilies – delicious, especially in the evening. In the fall you can plant garlic to harvest next summer.

  • Maureen says:

    I have a black thumb, but I do try every year. I live in PA, don’t know the zone. I love the smell of hyaciths in the spring, and they actually have come back up 3 years in a row…I feel like a real gardener! Please enter me in the draw…I am a beginner perfumnista, just know about Chanels (Coco, Coco Mdm. Allure, etc. from gifts.

  • nozknoz says:

    What about some honeysuckle vines, Patty? I LOVE that scent and don’t think there is any perfume that captures it. Don’t really know the zones, but it was basically wild in Ohio so I think it grows in a range of climates.

    In terms of new releases, I think I like the new Duchaufour Frapin, but I misplaced my sample after trying it once so I’m trying to restrain the lemmings until I can remedy that. It’s not a spring scent, so not ideal for reviewing now, I guess. They aren’t new releases, but I’ve been exploring the Hilde Solianis, which I like. I guess it’s GOOD to have a chance to catch up, isn’t it?

  • Olive says:

    Maybe you’ve responded to this several million times already (I’m newish), but I wonder how the farm background has shaped your nose and where you want to put it.
    I ask because I feel driven back to earth odors (animal/plant/mineral) by how you, and your talented blog-peers ruminate perfumes.
    What I mean is: Today, weighed down by sweet potatoes and red wine, I stopped to inhale a white lilac bush held captive by a grocery store parking lot.

    And to Amy K: I never got past tasting dirt in beets, I learned to appreciate the taste of dirt. Dirt tastes especially good with goat cheese.

    • Patty says:

      Hey, Olive. Farm smells definitely pulls me more towards dirt smells. grass smells. Hay. While I admire the nicely crafted aldehydic perfumes, I’m drawn more to the outdoorsy or natural feel of a smell. I like floral blends, but not if they’re so mucky I can’t find some note in there that I recognize distinctly.

      I’m with you on appreciating the dirt taste in beets. That’s all that’s required. :) and yum. and extra yum with goat cheese.

  • Amy K says:

    Mmmm, home-grown bell peppers! My husband is disappointed that I don’t share his passionate love of beets, but they always taste like dirt to me for some reason, no matter how we cook them. Lavender grows surprisingly well in the Pacific Northwest (I always assumed it needed a Provence-like climate) and smells so good in the summer.

  • Kirsten-Marie says:

    Patty – I’m just south of you, but still in Zone 5. Lilacs always mean spring to me, but I had a David Austen Evelyn rose bush do great here. That’s the bush that Crabtree and Evelyn used in their signature Evelyn perfume – which was my first signature scent back in high school. The rose and the perfume are a very close match.

    So…will you share your roast beet recipe? Please?? I’ve always had them cooked, not roasted, but that sounds fab!

  • Kirsten says:

    Queen of the Garden just now is my Azalea (Klondyke), sweet, bury-your-nose deep clove. The magnolia is finished for the year, and my baby Osmanthus gave me a few fleeting but beautiful clusters 2 inches of the ground. My Daphne is refusing to flower, I think I’ll follow your tips Patty, and move her somewhere drier at the end of the year. I bought some Menarda plants last week because the foliage smells so lovely, I think they’re a type of Bergamot.
    I can’t wait for the honeysuckles and jasmines to flower, welcoming summer at last!

    • tammy says:

      I’ve been debating whether to add a few of these around my witch hazel and fothergilla planting….are they pretty self-sufficient?

      • Kirsten says:

        The monarda? They seem pretty sturdy but only time will tell! The stems are quite fleshy, almost like rhubarb, but they smell lovely (a cross between Earl Grey tea and Lavender). I keep finding an excuse to give them a little stroke every time I walk past. They’re perennials, and you should be able to divide them after a few years.

        • tammy says:

          Actually, I meant the azalea….I do love bee balm, but I wouldn’t dare let it run wild without supervision; it goes crazy down South!

          • Kirsten says:

            Oh I see ! :)

            This was the first deciduous azalea I tried, so I planted it safely between a large evergreen hedge and a pergola smothered in honeysuckle, climbing roses and an Akebia. Its protected from the wind, and the frost in winter, and so far it survived the last two -16 Celsius winters we’ve had here with no other cover or fleece. I’ve had way more blooms this year, possibly because we’ve had an unusually warm and dry April. So if you’re from warmer climes than South Scotland, they should do pretty well!


          • tammy says:

            May I come sit under your pergola? :o)

            Thanks so much for the information; I think I shall give it a go. The winter temps in northern Arkansas and southern Scotland are probably similar, though I assume the summer heat is much nastier. Can’t hurt to try it, thanks again!

  • Claudia says:

    I don’t have a yard right now, but when I did, I had one specific goal in mind for my flowers: They had to attract hummingbirds! The salvia and bee balm I planted seemed to work the best. Thanks for the draw!

  • jen says:

    Too cold for real citrus there, but mock orange bushes are really h ardy and smell like orange blossoms.

  • Julie says:

    Living in a rental now (and in SoCal, so no help with the tips!), so haven’t done much gardening since I can’t mess with the yard. I do have lots of pots and we have 2 enormous star jasmine that came with the place, so we are nicely scented now. I do need to get some veggies going in pots, but I’ve been quite lazy with gardening this year. So lazy that a tree I thought I had killed (gingko) had time to regenerate before I got around to tossing it. Very excited that it has come back to life! For scented shrubs, viburnum is great and love wisteria and honeysuckle although these are both pretty “aggressive” so they need to be kept in check.

  • AnnieA says:

    Will cast a vote for mint, especially for making minty drinks later in the summer. You might want to put it in a pot, as rumour has it one mint plant can take over a whole garden. Creeping thyme is nice too, which is safe to let run amok.

    • Julie says:

      Mint is definitely aggressive – it took over our vegetable garden one year!

  • Daniele says:

    Peonies are one of my favourite flowers, and I think they smell amazing. My mom used to have some in the back yard when I was growing up, and to this day I think they’re one of the most romantic and hopeful looking flowers I’ve ever seen.

    I haven’t been able to find a perfume that really smells like a peony though. Something in Stella reminds me of them, but I’m sure there must be better interpretations out there. :”>

    • Ann says:

      Hi Daniele. Have you sniffed Les Heures de Cartier L`Heure Diaphane VIII? It has peony, rose and litchi. And when I tried it, the peony was pretty pronounced on my skin. YMMV.

  • maggiecat says:

    I’ve been craving a garden lately, and may actually at some point translate that craving to the necessary hard work! I definitely think you should plant lavender – not only for the smell but for its general usefulness, and I agree with the above comments about rosemary (which doesn’t like winter much but is otherwsie quite hardy). Enjoy the fruits (and the veggies)of your labors!

  • Tom says:

    You’d have to do it in a pot and take it in when the weather gets cold but Rosemary is a nice one to have around. Relatively fool-proof as long as it has direct sunlight. Smells great too.

    • Musette says:

      Alas, it rarely does well in an indoor pot, at least for me. That’s one of those Zone 8-10 plants I so envy you, with your being able to grow it as a hedge! :((

      xo >-)

      • Tom says:

        well, it can be kind of a pain in the neck. It can take over your whole yard by the time you turn around. But it does smell heavenly, IMHO.

        It can be indoors if it gets sun, even if it’s in a relatively cool area. Just no freezing weather. We put ours in a pot in a sunny window on the radiator and it was fine.

  • bevfred says:

    A wealthy woman’s gardner once gave me “Zalusianskya Capensis.”
    AKA Midnight Candy or Night Phlox. I’ve never selled anything like it, exquisitely beautiful and complex. Unfortunately, I had it before my scent vocabulary was very sophisticated.
    In zone 5A it was considered to be an annual.
    If you are unable to enjoy it this year, look forward to next year. It’s lovely!

    • Lee says:

      Popping into to say I’ve grown about 50 of these from seed this year. Not yet big enough to flower, but when they do, my oh my.

      Hello all!

      • tammy says:

        Hello, Lee!!!!

      • Musette says:

        Hi, sweetie!!!!

        How’s YOUR garden doing?

        xoxoxo >-)

        • Lee says:

          Hi beautiful Anita and all.

          It’s doing great. All seeds sown – got to plant up the beans and corn and peppers and squash and zucchini and tomatoes… Flower garden – tulips faded about three weeks ago – now alliums and roses. And it looks as if the lilies’ll be blooming a month early. Seasons all wonky here – and no rain (beyond that sort which disappears before you’ve time to see it) since February. We’re heading for drought.

  • mariekel says:

    I am so envious, Patty! If you lived nearby I would invite myself over for salad — love arugula and beets (slivered raw beets with shaved parmesan and arugula….mmmm… (drooling like Homer Simpson now)…

    I adore Mediterranean plants — rosemary (which has gorgeous blue flowers), lavender, lemon thyme, basil and geraniums. The combined fragrances of those plants is stunning. to me, it is the epitome of summer.

  • LindaB says:

    I’m in zone 6 and found one of the most interesting smelling plants that I’ve done is the Anise Hyssop. It does very well in full sun.
    I also make sure I do big containers of rosemary, lavender, basil and thyme each year…heavenly smells and oft used all summer long!!
    Happy planting!! I start mine this weekend…WWWHHHEEEE!!!!!

  • Junebug says:

    I’m not sure about the zone, but the butterfly bush is a lovely thing to have in your garden. Soft, pretty scented flowers which come in a variety of colors, but the best thing is that it attracts butterflies and hummingbirds! Awesome to sit, relax and see who comes to visit your garden.

    • Julie says:

      Butterfly bush is great! We had several in our yard growing up and the hummingbirds just loved it!

  • Bryna says:

    I’m in a zone 5-6, and have more shade than sun but I’ve had great success with Casablanca lilies and peonies. Last year I bought a potted jasmine plant which was heavenly and over-wintered it inside. It’s beginning to really branch out but won’t go outside for another few weeks yet. Thyme is really hardy and would be great for a walkway. I find a lot of the plants (cedar) herbs (basil) and veggies (tomatoes) need to be touched for full smell effect :)

  • Holly F. says:

    I’m probably not much help, I have tons of work to do on my garden as well. The lilac bush is my favorite in the spring! Just heavenly. Mint grows rampant in my yard, and I hope to add more herbs to the mix this year. Beets and heirloom purple tomatoes sound simply divine!

  • Isa says:

    Jasmin and tuberose smell wonderful while they are in bloom, obviously.
    And I love rosemary and thyme too. Lavender is beautiful but it attracts bees and bumblebees, so be careful!

    I read the blog almost everyday, but I was wondering if the sample draws of Absolue pour le soir, Jeux de peau, Zeta and Jardin sur le Toit were already closed and winners announced :)

    Anyway, thank you for this chance to try something new!

  • Calypso says:

    How about some variety of moonflower or datura? My mother grew some plants in Michigan and so I would think you could have them where you live. The smell is divine and the blossoms are huge and magnificent.

  • Alice C says:

    How about some Rosemary? It smells good! Or, try some Jalapeno peppers. I’m Zone 8, but I would think you could manage those in the Summer where you are.

  • Olfacta says:

    There are many kinds of creeping thymes, often planted between the stones on walkways, as they smell wonderful when you step on them. They’re tough perennials, too. I have a small patch of various thymes next to our stone patio. They come in many shades of green, so there’s a “patchwork quilt” effect when you plant them adjacent to one another. I’m in the upland-ish South, and we do get very cold snaps during the winter, which the thyme plants survive just fine. Most well-stocked garden centers carry a variety, sometimes in the “groundcover” section.

  • GvilleCreative says:

    Night blooming jasmine! I have always wanted to have this in my yard!

    Have you read “the unlikely lavendar queen”? This inspired me to want to garden, and the lavendar in it sounds lovely. She was in Texas, as I recall, and the book talks lovingly about the challenges and the culture. It was quite good! (scented reading is a pleasure)

  • pam says:

    All these plants sound lovely, but I’m in the Deep South so many of them would not work for me. Add to it that my lot seems to be composed primarily of rocks. I keep adding topsoil, but it’s a long process. At least I have a large (huge–about 7 feet high) gardenia, and when it blooms you can smell it for miles. One of my fondest scents of childhood is magnolia. Don’t have one in my yard, but a neighbor does, and when I take my morning walk, it smells fabulous.

  • Leslie says:

    Sweet Autumn Clematis is a good choice if you have room for a pretty sizable vine. And I’ll put in another vote for lavender, although in my zone 5a garden (just west of Chicago), it looks like I will be replacing a couple of them. Probably too much snow and rain over the last few months.

    March previously mentioned fragrant iris. I keep meaning to check that out, too.

  • Ann says:

    Yum, Patty! I’m a beet girl, too, and love me some arugula as well. Beet, goat cheese and arugula salad, anyone?
    I’m not much of a gardener (bad back, so can’t do much bending, lifting etc.), but I do appreciate those who are. I adore the scent of honeysuckle that grows in a wide swath near where I walk. Looking forward to passing it helps keep me going. Thanks and have a great day, everyone!

  • Marla says:

    The smelly plant I miss the most now that I’m in Deep South territory is lavender, English, Spanish, and Seville. I was always able to harvest armfuls from my garden and dry the flowers and make sachets that would last until the next harvest, sooooo beautiful, and of course, great for a good night’s sleep as well. Now I live on a sand dune and even grass doesn’t grow on that. The seaweed is quite plentiful nearby, though!
    And yes, include me in the draw!

    • mariekel says:

      I am so with you. I adore lavender of any variety, though my preference is for French. Groupings of lavender in hot sun with a slight breeze… heaven.

  • bookhouseshell says:

    Can’t seem to pick up the gardening thing. It feels like I should, now that I’m a homeowner, but I managed to slaughter even potted herbs (scary that I’m a mother). So I’m blessed, as my absolute favorite is lilac. I even tried to extract some of the fragrance from the petals with 90% ethanol last year, ended up with a brown/gray stinking mess. I guess I’ll just enjoy them on the bush.

  • Debbie R. says:

    My favorite plant scent memory is one of roses. My mother used to grow them. The absolute best was an orange rose. Its fragrance was incredible! I have been wanting to smell that again for decades. Florist flowers are so scentless, and I can’t get over it. How can they do that to roses? What are they doing it to render them so scentless?

  • KathyT says:

    My favorite easy care fragrant shrub is winter honeysuckle. The flowers are not showy at all, but it has the sweetest fragrance in late winter, and the branches smell wonderful in a mixed bouquet with daffodils and hyacinths. This year we are going to try tomatoes, cucumbers, and hot peppers, but we have to deal with rabbits and deer. I’d love to have okra too.

  • Melanie says:

    I love heliotrope, I always have pots of it on the deck. Some Nicotiana (tobacco flower) hybrids are fragrant. I second the Night-Scented Stock: divine!

    For veggies, I’m crazy about greens. This year I’m planting mesclun lettuce mix, arugula, spinach, beet greens, mustard greens, swiss chard, purslane, Chinese cabbage, and I’m excited about a recipe I found for salt-and-vinegar kale “chips”.

  • ElizabethC says:

    My long-term goal with our garden is to make it as fragrant as possible. Have the roses, planted a lilac last year. This year I planted a curry plant ((Helichrysum italicum). Does anyone know if this is the same as an immortelle plant or is that a completely different plant? Whatever it is, the curry plant smells wonderful. I had read that cats don’t like it but it didn’t seem to faze the neighborhood cat that came over to look for company while I was gardening!

  • Mina J says:

    I’m obsessed with my brugmansia (trumpet flower) plant, which has huge, showy, incredibly fragrant flowers. I live in Southern California, where it’s quite warm, so I don’t know how well they grow in Zone 5, but if you can manage it, they are soo worth it. They fill my entire yard with a thick cloud of heady, sweet fragrance.

  • sunnlitt says:

    So glad to hear that you are getting another Daphne. I have one in my yard and I’m kind of amazed that it is still alive. They seem to be kind of picky around here on the central coast of California. I think that that like it best right next to a wall or stairway-where they can cozy up to some warm shelter.

    I love beets, too!! Have a horrid gopher problem, though. Yuck.

    Can you grow citrus trees? There is nothing like that scent. Grow them in a pot, and shelter them during the winter if you need to. Those blossoms are wonderful!

  • tammy says:

    Hmmmm, someone beat me to Spicebush Viburnum, and night-scented stock!

    If you have a soggy spot, try a swamp azalea. Glorious clove scent.

    I’d also recommend a witch-hazel; a great bonus is its winter bloom! (Make sure you shop around for the more fragrant varieties.) I looked, and they have some at the Denver Botanical Garden.

    If you have a warm, dry place, try Iris unguicularis, as well; blooms very early and is fragrant, though small. ( It likes the same conditions as your daphne, though it probably isn’t hardy in your zone. Well worth a go, though)

    Also, check out phlox varieties; many are deliciously scented, especially at night.

    Lastly, I think you need a Patty’s Plum Oriental poppy. No scent, but it’s a gorgeous broody color, and how can you resist the name?

    • Marla says:

      Hamamelis/witchhazel is gorgeous, isn’t it? And so useful as a skin tonic, too. Love the smell….

      • tammy says:

        It’s becoming one of my all time favorite shrubs! I have several varieties planted on our property in Arkansas.

        We’ve planted the fragrant ones close to the house, so we can enjoy them; however, there’s a variety called Jelena ( maybe Diane, can’t quite remember) that turns such a gorgeous orange color in the Fall that I have it closer to the house so I can see it, though it isn’t at all fragrant.

        I’ve threaded a couple of jackmanii clematis through its branches and planted three fothergilla around it, which is fragrant in the Spring, and also colors up beautifully in the Fall; all of this is underplanted with evergreen vinca and lots of hellebore, bulbs and Fall blooming crocus, so it’s fairly decent almost all year long.

  • Dionne says:

    Mmmmm, beets. My favorite vegetable.

    As soon as you mentioned fragrant flowers, I immediately thought of Evening Scented Stock (aka Night-scented Stock, or Matthiola bicornis). It’s a scraggly, unattractive little thing, but wow! It smells AMAZING in the evening. We put just a few plants by the front door at our previous house, and got comments along the lines of “What is that amazing smell?” from anyone who came to our front door in the evening. They were always surprised when I pointed out the tiny little flowers, and that something that unassuming smelled so wonderful. Just hide a few flowers under something taller and prettier, and you’re set.

    It’s a hardy annual that thrives in my Zone 3, so I’m pretty sure you’d be fine (oooh, Zone 5 sounds so….exotic to me ;))

    • Musette says:

      OMG! You had me =)) on the Zone 5 = exotic thing. I know what you mean (though I am in Zone 5). I used to drool over Zone 9-10 plants…finally gave it up. Here (central IL) we satisfy our hunger for tropicals with Canna (it can develop into a perennial) and fuschia which I’ve never been able to overwinter so I just suck it up and buy a couple of plants every year.

      Are you able to grow the Griffith Buck roses up there?

      I used to plant just for me. Now I’m planting for bees, too, so things have changed a bit. They prefer white/yellow/blue flowers so we have tons of tickseed and blackeyed susans, etc….and I’m gradually overseeding the lawn with clover.

      xo >-)

      • Kirsten says:

        Hi Musette,

        My Mum always dug her fuschias out at the end of the year (with a little soil around the roots), wrapped them in sack-cloth/hessian, and stored them over winter in a dark shed. She planted them out in the spring and they came back every year. She had similar luck with geraniums too!

  • mals86 says:

    Sorry, I have no advice.

    My gardeny thoughts lately: 1) I need some more peony plants. 2) I wish there were a way to keep black locust trees fairly small, so that their blooms stay close to the ground instead of shooting up 20 feet. 3)I freakin’ GIVE UP ALREADY on the lily of the valley. Three times I’ve planted it and it’s broken my heart (too much sun in my yard, apparently). 4) I love beets. I love love beets. Beeeeets… I lust for beets the way Homer Simpson joneses for doughnuts. 5) I think the way to eat turnips is raw. Sliced thin, with salt. Probably a southern thing.

  • Musette says:

    If I had to choose one smelly flower it would be Korean Spice Bush (viburnum carlesii) – I think it is the swooniest fragrance ever, lots of clove but one of those that can only be smelled on the wind (at least for me – up close it shuts down my nose)

    I planned my garden last year – did the whole border thing, sodbustin’ like a maniac. Our very kind neighbor came over and tilled the veg patch – we’ll be doing corn, beans, garlic, tomatoes,and Brussels sprouts (teeny ones, lightly sauteed with lemon and razor-thin garlic slices – oh, yum)…

    in the pots I will have lettuces (too hot here to grow it in the patch – it’s already 90F)…we have tons of bunnies so El O is constructing a fence, etc, with the chicken wire etc…..

    I wish I could get with the beets but I’ve never liked sweet root veg. Now turnips? 😕 Roasted? More yum! The bitterer, the betta!

    xo >-)

    • annie says:

      Sounds gross,but,we had MANY wonderful gardens,and the only thing that would keep those cutie-pie bunnies out,was:hair clippings(beauty salon is HAPPY to give them to you),and old shoes(I went to the goodwill)….these methods worked like a charm…(rather ‘oookey’,but,hey,recycling is the game,right????)…good luck!

      • Musette says:

        OMG! I totally forgot the hair!!! Yes! human hair works, as does wolf hair and you know what else seems to work? Snakeskins (off of molting snakes – not the other kind). I have a friend with a rather large collection of snakes – when they molt perhaps she will give me a skin (the one from her 240lb python orta do it, don’tchathink? 😕

        didn’t know about the shoes…wonder why those work?

        xo >-)

        • annie says:

          Human sweat body odor,aka your son’s gym shoes…they think humans are in the garden…ACK!!!

    • mariekel says:

      oh yes, love them sprouts! they get such a bad rap. must try your recipe.

  • Lilybug says:

    When I was a kid, we had this straggly shrub with purple flowers which smelled just like… grape bubble gum! No idea what it was or whether I’d find it appealing now but whoa that was a good smell for a 10 year old. I’d love to have an aromatic garden filled with herbs and fruit and (nice) smelly things. One day.

    • Marla says:

      That was probably wisteria, the “grape candy flower”. It grows very well in Central Texas and the South, I don’t know if it would grow in Zone 5? One of my favorite flowers, beautiful-looking, too.