Step outside and smell the roses, plus a host of other scented flowers too. Choosing plants shouldn’t just be about their size, shape and colour. Let’s embrace their full sensory appeal, including the most evocative of all … fragrance!
Plants evolved fragrant flowers to attract pollinating insects, rewarding them with nectar and pollen they’ll discover within, but we enjoy and benefit from their wonderful scents too.
Research on floral scents has highlighted their benefit to both mental and physical health by relieving stress and depression.
Scent can also improve memory, focus and wellbeing, particularly in combination with other sensory engagement with plants and gardening activities.
For relaxation, the scent of lavender has been shown to lower blood pressure and heart rate to promote sleep, while aromatic rosemary keeps you alert, improving focus and memory. Sometimes a scent can even unlock a childhood memory, transporting you back to a time or place to help remember people and events in the past.
So, forget the scented candles and grow your own aromatherapy plants instead, enjoying the simple pleasure of filling your garden with fragrance, with support from the ‘Gardening is Good for You!’ campaign, supported by National Garden Gift Vouchers.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Fragrance Wheel was developed by the perfume industry to categorise different scents, giving them a descriptive language they can use. Fragrance directly changes our mood, too. Fruity and spicy perfumes are uplifting and reinvigorating, while floral and rosy perfumes reduce stress and anxiety, promoting mental balance. Fresh, green, herbal and citrus perfumes keep us mentally active and creative, while earthy scents can be comforting and nurturing.
PLANTS OF THE MOMENT: SCENTED PLANTS
There are scented plants to enjoy during every season, including pot plants and cut flowers like sweet peas to bring indoors. Summer scents are particularly valuable, enjoyed while sitting outside and relaxing in your own garden. Include shrubs with highly fragrant flowers, like mock orange (Philadelphus) and lilac (Syringa) in borders, and grow scented climbers like roses, jasmine and honeysuckle over arches and pergolas or around doors and windows. Also position plants with fragrant foliage, like lavender and herbs, close to paths, doorways and seating areas so you can run your hand over them to release their aroma as you pass.
Develop displays of plants with scented flowers or foliage e.g.
- Lavender & Butterfly Lavender*
- Fragrant roses
- Mock Orange – Philadelphus vars eg ‘Belle Etoile’ AGM
- Daphne x transatlantica Eternal Fragrance AGM
- Escallonia ‘Iveyi’ AGM
- Abelia x grandiflora
- Lilac – later flowering Syringa varieties
- Aromatic herbs e.g. rosemary*, sage, thyme, lemon verbena, oregano.
- Perennials like Salvia ‘Carradonna’, Phlox divaricate ‘Clouds of Perfume’ and varieties of Verbasum.
- Scented paeonies, shrubs, climbers, bulbs, Verbena rigida.
*Lavandula species and Rosemary are listed by Defra as Xylella Host Plants of concern to the UK. For further information please visit the Plant Health Portal and read the latest High Risk Host list. Suspected cases of Xylella fastidiosa or any other non-native plant pest must be reported to the relevant authority. All Xylella host plants should be sourced responsibly.
Consumers can follow ‘Gardening is Good for You!’ at www.hta.org.uk/gigfy