The RHS conducted a survey in spring 2013, in which it asked its members for their favourite scented plants.
Traditional flowers such as sweet peas, hyacinths and honeysuckle topped the list, which consisted mainly of spring-flowering plants. We’ve selected one of our own best-selling plants from each of the top 12 scented plants.
No garden should be without sweet peas. Their fragrance fills the air and the more flowers you cut, the more will grow. They’re great for ground cover or grown against walls, fences and trellises. A simple bouquet of sweet pea blooms on a windowsill or table just can’t be beaten. Sweet pea seeds should be sown either indoors in October, which produces much stronger plants, or outdoors in March and April. If you’re buying them as plug plants you’ll need somewhere to grow them on before planting them out. Sweet Pea ‘Scent Infusion’ is a real favourite with our customers.
With their unmistakeable scent and beautiful blooms, hyacinths give a stunning spring display both in the border and in pots on the patio. They make great cut flowers too. Try ‘Breeder’s Selection’ – an exclusive mix that you can’t buy anywhere else, with shorter stems and densely packed with colour-rich flowers.
Honeysuckle comes in many shapes and sizes, from the well-known fragrant varieties to the more unusual ‘trumpet’ honeysuckle. ‘Dropmore Scarlet’ is one such variety and, while it is unscented, the striking fiery-red blooms and blue-green foliage more than make up for it. This vigorous climber flowers from June to September and is perfect for covering walls, fences and unsightly garden features.
The highly sought-after Daphne is a hardy evergreen shrub with deeply fragrant, pale pink flowers that open around Christmas. They’re a real treat at a time when the garden is usually a bit on the dull side! Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ is a slow-growing shrub that’s perfect for growing in large containers in a sunny or semi-shaded spot in the garden. These highly scented plants will grow just as happily in the border too.
Narcissus, or daffodils, are a sure sign that spring is well on its way. There are many varieties available, from the traditional bright yellow daffs t0 pink, cream, bicoloured, double and single varieties – the choice is amazing! But for real impact, narcissus ‘Replete’ takes some beating – the sumptuous double flowers open into peachy-pink ruffles up to 10cm (4in) across. Easy to grow and perfect in borders, rockeries, containers or naturalised in grass.
Most varieties of lilac flower for a few weeks, but by growing ‘Bloomerang’, you’ll have flowers for months! This dwarf lilac fits into most gardens without being overbearing and blooms from spring to summer and again from late summer to the first frosts. Butterflies love it too and it even makes a great cut flower.
Viburnum ‘Dawn’ is a winter-flowering, deciduous shrub that produces masses of dark pink blooms with a rich fragrance. The flowers fade to white before producing berries in the summer. Autumn brings a change in foliage colour to bright orange and yellow, before the flowers appear in winter again. It’s easy to grow and care for and is a perfect plant for a prominent border, where it’ll be a talking point all year round.
With their heady fragrance and impressive blooms, lilies are a great feature in both the border and cut flower arrangements. The Trumpet Tree Lily produces huge white trumpet blooms with lime green throats that have an alluring freesia-like scent.
Jasmine plants are known for their richly perfumed flowers and the variety ‘Revolutum’ is no exception. The bright yellow flowers are on show from May to August and really stand out against the semi-evergreen foliage. Planting it in a sunny spot intensifies the fragrance.
Wallflowers are just about the perfect plant! Versatile and undemanding, they’ll thrive even in the poorest of soils and bloom in the spring. Wallflower ‘Sugar Rush’, winner in the ‘Best New Bedding Plant’ category at the Grower of the Year Awards 2013, flowers twice – in spring and again in autumn, when most of the garden in dormant and giving a welcome display of fragrant blooms.
Roses need very little introduction in terms of scent and ‘Lady Marmalade’ is one of our favourites. Awarded ‘Rose of the Year 2014’, the vintage, cabbage-shaped blooms have a deliciously sweet scent, but that’s where any relation to the past stops – these scented plants have the disease resistance of modern roses.
Lily of the valley
Perfect for springtime posies, lily of the valley fills the air with its sweet fragrance. Plant the ‘pips’ out in spring and, once the plants are established, you’ll be rewarded with a low-maintenance plant that gives wonderful ground cover in woodland gardens and damp, shady areas.
Rebecca works in the Marketing department as part of the busy web team, focusing on updating the UK news and blog pages and Thompson & Morgan’s international website. Rebecca enjoys gardening and learning about flowers and growing vegetables with her young daughter.