Our five basic senses are important to us – touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste. The sensing organs associated with each sense send information to the brain to help us understand and perceive the world around us. This year, I have been thinking about our senses, possibly because many people who have contracted Covid-19 have lost their sense of taste. Meanwhile, I have been having lots of hearing tests as I had impaired hearing due to a bomb blast nearly 40 years ago. This all got me thinking about how important my sense of smell is and how much smell can evoke very poignant memories. For example, my favourite scented summer plants are Roses. The Roses in my garden remind me of my grandmother as not only did she have a Rose garden but also because she wore a Rose fragrance.
I love all the fragrances in my garden. However, I do not understand flowers that do not have a fragrance; however pretty they are, they seem to be lacking. So whenever I am planning to plant an area of the garden, I always reach for my RHS Companion to Scented Plants. I want to recommend it however, it appears to cost £75+ on Amazon, but at Peter Nyssen, it is £18 but out of stock though you can pop your email address into the box so that they can contact you when it is back in stock.
Available from Peter Nyssen (not in stock at the moment).
Meanwhile here are some flowers that give off a delicious fragrance during the summer months.
ROSE – GERTRUDE JEKYLL
This beautiful, perfectly balanced Old Rose scent is often described as being the quintessential Old Rose fragrance. A vigorous rose; it will form a medium-sized, upright shrub. This rose is my absolute favourite.
Available from David Austen.
ROSE – SCENT FROM HEAVEN
Voted Rose of the Year 2017, this climbing rose has a powerful perfume. A repeat-bloomer, it starts to flower in early summer, producing elegantly pointed buds that open up to lush apricot-orange blooms – and it’s usually still in flower in early autumn. It has been bred in Britain by rose hybridiser Chris Warner, who is renowned for his climbing and rambling roses. He has hailed it as being extremely disease-resistant, saying that ‘you will never have to spray it’ (against fungal diseases). Therefore, not only does it look good, it smells delicious, and will not require a lot of fuss and bother.
Available from RHS Plants.
LILAC ‘MISS KIM’
A heady, lily-like scent emanates from dainty, lavender-pink sprays on this easily grown Manchurian lilac. It is a small deciduous shrub, which is attractive to butterflies and makes a good informal flowering hedge, with the abundant fragrant flowers appearing in May which are dark lavender-pink in bud, fading into a light Lavender pink when fully open. The foliage takes on attractive shades of reddish-purple in the autumn, making it ideal for shrub borders.
Available from Thompson & Morgan.
HONEYSUCKLE – GRAHAM THOMAS
Fabulously fragrant, large, tubular, white flowers, ageing to yellow, from July to September and oval, mid-green leaves. This vigorous, deciduous climber will soon cover a boundary wall or fence in a sunny site. Later flowering than many other varieties of honeysuckle, it’s ideal for a cottage or wildlife garden. I have this growing around my outside eating area and the smell is so gorgeous.
Available from Crocus
With its pretty small white flowers and a sweet orangey fragrance, a mock orange is a pure delight and heralds the beginning of summer. It’s a hardy shrub that will tolerate some shade but can get quite large so beware. Whenever you go near when it’s in bloom, you’ll be struck by its delicious scent almost good enough to eat.
Available from Crocus
Dianthus – ‘Becky Robinson’
Becky Robinson’ is a compact, mound-forming, evergreen perennial with linear, blue-green leaves and, in summer, fragrant, semi-double pale to rose-pink flowers laced with dark red.
I am not a Chrysanthemum fan but the fragrance is so gorgeous I can overcome my dislike of these flowers.
Available from shoot
For milder areas, the delicate and exotic scent of the jasmine is utterly compelling and the wash of tiny flowers a delight. In some areas, winter jasmine will brighten a garden when little else flowers and add that extra touch of autumn fragrance.
Available from Crocus