There is nothing quite like walking into your garden and having your senses assaulted by the sweet smells of growing things. Herbs offer an easy way to create a hardy fragrance garden, which can delight your olfactory sense from early spring until well into the fall. An fragrant herbal garden also serves multiple purposes. Not only can you enjoy the sweet fragrances imparted by the herbs; but you can use the herbs for cooking and in craft projects, as well. Following are ten herbs, which you will definitely want to include in an herbal fragrance garden.
1.Catmint (Nepeta faassenii). Make sure that you choose catmint and not catnip. This perennial herb is not as invasive as other mints. Its grayish-green leaves and light purplish-blue flowers are lovely at the front of the border where you can also more easily enjoy its spice-y scent.
2.Garlic Chives (Allium tuberosum). You might not think to include anything with the word “garlic” in its name in a fragrance garden; however, the white blooms have a nice rose scent. This easy-to-grow perennial also offers an upright form in the garden, plus you will find yourself using it often in the kitchen.
3.Lavender (Lavandula augustifolia). Lavender is a must for any fragrance garden. This evergreen, perennial shrub is also a traditional cottage garden plant. Its gray-green foliage offers not only contrast in the garden but also imparts a wondrous scent.
4.Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis). This perennial herb has a strong lemon scent. It is also a herb that can be extremely invasive. You will want to control it by planting it in a container and keeping the flowers cut back so it will not wantonly self-seed.
5.Mint (Mentha). I find it hard to imagine any fragrance garden without some variety of mint in it. Due to its invasive properties, you will want to confine your mint to a decorative container. There are numerous varieties of mint from which to choose, dictated only by your individual tastes. Two of my personal favorites for a fragrance garden are pineapple mint (M. suaveolins var. variegate) and eau-de-cologne mint ((Menta x piperita f. citrate).
6.Mother-of-Thyme (Thymus serpyllum). Choose this variety of thyme as a ground cover or to plant between stepping stones so its scent will be released into the air as you walk through your garden.
7.Nasturium (Tropaiolum). This is one of my favorite annuals to grow from seed. (Incidentally, it was also a favorite of Thomas Jefferson’s. It blooms profusely well into the fall after it first begins to bloom in the spring. The flowers have a peppery-perfume-y scent.
8.Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis). Barely brush against this popular culinary herb, and you will instantly understand why rosemary should have a place in the fragrance garden. This is another herb which will frequently find its way into your kitchen, as well.
9.Scented Geranium (Pelargonium). You can enjoy the summer blooms in colors of pink to lavender; however, the highly-fragrant foliage is an essential element in any fragrance garden. There are also numerous varieties – and scents – from which to choose; e.g., P. crispum (lemon-scented), P. graveolens (rose-scented), and P. tomentosum (peppermint-scented).
10.Sweet Violet (Viola odorata). Violets have been a favorite of gardeners since the time of the ancient greeks. Violets grow in clumps only 6-8 inches tall and prefer partial shade or dappled sun; therefore, you will want to plant them under a bench or at the base of taller plants.
This is just a small selection of the herbs you could choose to incorporate into an fragrant herbal garden. Most herbs are extremely easy to grow and are quite hardy. Do not be afraid to experiment with different herbs, especially those with which you like to cook. You will soon find that you not only have lovely scents wafting across your yard but that you also have a very functional garden, as well.
Written by Dena Bolton