Now that the days are longer, we can spend more time enjoying the great outdoors. You’ve set the scene with some lounge chairs, or perhaps you’ve indulged in a day bed. Whatever your mode of relaxation, you can enhance it by including scented bloomers. Fragrant flowers can alter your mood, helping to relieve stress and making you feel more calm. Here are my top five perfumed picks.
Gardenia (Gardenia augusta)
The waxy, creamy-white blooms of this evergreen shrub appear from late spring to autumn, filling the air with their divine perfume. When not in full bloom, the glossy-green leaves make a lovely year-round feature. Leave it to grow into a shrub, informal flowering hedge or potted standard (training and trimming it to look like a ‘lollipop’ or ball on a stick). Give it a spot in full sun and ensure the soil or potting mix is well drained. When flower buds appear, feed regularly with a liquid fertiliser high in potassium. Look for ‘Florida’, ‘Professor Pucci’, or for a lower-growing form, try ‘Radicans’.
Frangipani (Plumeria spp.)
You’ll feel like you’re on a tropical holiday when you breathe in the unmistakeable fragrance of frangipanis. This deciduous tree can grow up to 9m tall and 5m wide but are generally smaller in a garden setting. Plus, they respond well to pruning, so can be kept rather bushy and compact. Choose a spot in full sun and improve the soil with plenty of organic matter prior to planting. If growing in a pot, use a premium quality mix. Water regularly until well established. Pick the flowers and float them in shallow bowls for a decorative display.
Madagascar jasmine (Stephanotis floribunda)
Did you know that Princess Di’s bouquet contained the Madagascar jasmine? It formed the trailing part of her gorgeous floral arrangement. Now, that’s a fun fact you can tell your guests when they ask you about this glorious flowering climber. The small, star-shaped blooms are wonderfully fragrant and flower profusely from early summer to autumn. Plant in the garden or display in a pot and provide a support or trellis for it to climb. It needs a warm, sunny spot with at least 6 hours of light.
Osmanthus (Osmanthus delavayi)
This evergreen shrub is much loved for its hardy nature and sweetly scented blooms. The flowers are small, white and tubular and cover the shrub from late spring. Its leaves are also small and densely packed along the branches, making it ideal for a perfumed hedge. Choose a spot in full sun or part shade with well-drained soil. Mix in organic matter, like compost and aged manures prior to planting. ‘Heaven Scent’ and ‘Pearly Gates’ are the most popular varieties. ‘Pearly Gates’ flowers earlier in the season, so if you grow them both, you can extend your floral and scented window.
Chinese star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides)
One of the most popular and versatile perfumed climbers. It will happily (and vigorously) grow as a low-growing groundcover, up a trellis, along a fence, over an arbour or cascading over a pot or trough. The glossy-green leaves are handsome, but you’ll hardly notice them come spring, when they’re smothered in small, starry white blooms. The scent is intoxicating, so rich and intense, but with a hint of musk. It’s no wonder its highly coveted for use in fragrances. Give it a spot in full sun or part shade with well-draining soil. Once established, it can tolerate minimal watering.