Common garden plants which provide splendid fragrance

ladylotus(Z3/4 ND)October 13, 2011

I've tried to fill my gardens with a wide variety of plants and as many plants that provide pleasant fragrance. Enough fragrance so that when I walk down my garden paths I don't have to bend over and stick my nose into the plants.

Here is a photo of spring in one of my gardens. That variegated iris has a WONDERFUL scent of grape koolaid or grape crush soda. In addition, I have a large variety of peonies and they really provide a lot of fragrance.

This is a photo of Dancing Butterflies (peony) which has a wonderful sweet fragrance. It is a wonderful peony which holds up for a long time.

Here are several more of my peonies which really tantalize ones olfactory. very favorite time walking through my gardens or sitting on the deck is when my lilies are blooming. I have a couple hundred different varieties and WHOA baby does my yard smell fantastic when they begin blooming. Here are a few in this photo.

Another photo of my lilies.

And...lastly I can not forget my roses. They really put on the best show in Sept up through freeze in October. Here is a photo of one of my very favorite roses called Dreaming Spires on the left side of the photo. This rose is a beautiful yellowish rose that has peach tones infused withing the petals and has a fruity with a tinge of spice fragrance. Absolutely stunning.

What do the rest of you have in your gardens that you HAVE to have, to allow you a little heady scent while you are relaxing in your yard?

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What an Eden you've created! Stunning! 400 kinds of lilies! You must be at least a little bit mad! Your special Irises, Lilies and Peonies don't sound like common garden plants.

When I think of North Dakota, I imagine blizzards and hot dusty summers. I've been corrected, thank you.

If I could have but a single fragrant species, it would be
Tabernaemontana holsti (Pachysihon holsi) in the Apocynaceae. The fragrance is truely special being strong and sweet but with more notes, for which I lack words. It has large spiraling flowers that are striking, and even flower buds are attractive. It is a shrub or small tree from Uganda. I have seen a plant said to be the same species in Thailand. The one I have has wider more open flowers, so to my eye more beautiful.

In S. FL it blooms ca. 8-9 months. The flowers are short lived but sequential. Not common. I propaged mine from a tree in the Kampong in Coral Cables. It took three tries for a cutting to finaling root under mist!

For a Very Common garden plant I like 4'Clocks. The fragrance is sweet and again complex. The fragrance begs to be deeply inhnaled. It grows well in tropical and temperate areas, and self seeds, but I have not heard that it is invasive in natural vegetation.

I have a special 4'oclock memory. I am a child sitting in front of the tv after school. My mother comes home from work and kisses me. I feel her cold check, the ticking fur coat collar, and the fragrance of 4'Oclocks!

Happy Sniffing.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2011 at 8:37PM
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ladylotus(Z3/4 ND)


Thank you for the nice comments. I went out and did a little reading about Tabernaemontana holsti (Pachysihon holsi) it sounds like a fantastic plant that would do very well in my greenhouse. I have to watch for this one. The only place I could find it was Tropical 9 and they did not even have it for sale. You are fortunate to have propagated yours.

4'Clocks were something that we grew up with on the farm too. My parents always made me collect a jar full of seeds for the next season. I don't remember smelling them and have not grown them since. I will have to grow a few plants now. :) aaahhh your 4'clock memory is endearing.

ND does have it's fair share of blizzards and usually our summers are hot and DRY. The dryness is the worst part.

Have a great weekend...and if you ever see Tabernaemontana holsti (Pachysihon holsi) on sale somewhere...please let me know.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 5:11PM
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kemistry(8 - Oregon)

ladylotus, gardino has it. I want it too ;)


And I love your peonies! So pretty! I wish I could grow them :)

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 7:06PM
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ladylotus(Z3/4 ND)


Thank you so much for the link...I want one of these but think it may be too late in the season to order it this year. I will give them a call Monday and see what they think.

Orchidbee - is it a hard plant to grow?

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 10:58PM
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Oh my God ! That is spectacular!

You know, I may not have a yard as big as that or that many plants with that many fragrances, but I have a 4 fragrances that come from the same plant!
In the spring it smells of green grass, the summer it smells of hay, then in the fall is smells of dried grass, and then in the winter it smells of rot! lol

Any way, I wish I could take a stroll through your yard! I have always just wanted to park my but somewhere among such beauty on a park bench and read a good novel with the sounds of birds and sweet fragrances that fill the air! I will even bet that you see humming birds too, right?

I must agree with you on the Lilies. I have dozens of them in one area, actually surrounding the whole perimeter of my yard and when they are in bloom, wow, they will knock the socks off anyones feet. I actually have neighbors that come here to just sit and breath.

Funny thing that you brought this up. Most of us here have lots of fragrant houseplants and it seems to carry over to the ones we keep outside too. I will not plant a thing in my yard unless it has a fragrance.
A couple of my most splendid plants if you do not already have them are....

The fragrant Azalea "Viscosum' and the 'Vibernums'...Oh my God are they nice! I have 5 of each. I have Magnoila trees and Honeysuckle.
I also have Peonies, Aster, Sweet Wood Drift, and Liliacs. Must I go on?lol

Ok, I can not go back and check my spelling because time fleeted by, but I am fun I spent some time with you on this subject.

If you could let me know where you got that Rose you speak of, I would love to get one. It sounds so nice!

Have a great day.


    Bookmark   October 16, 2011 at 9:42AM
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Ladylotus et al.

I have grown two holstii. One was put in an unirrigated yard underneath an oak canopy. It slowly died and never flowered. The other one was (is) in a pot and I repotted every once in a while as it grew. It is under the same oak canopy and has flowered from early on. It is now in a very big pot and has a new beautiful big fragrant flower today. The flower is too high for me to smell directly! Fortunately, the branches are flexable so can be bent down to enable smelling.

MeyerMike your Eden sounds most appealing! Fragrant plants are also the only thing I buy now. I have mangoes and other fruit trees, not all of which actually bear fruit. I also have a big patch of flowering plants (mostly Verbescina virginiana, Ruellia tweedyi, goldenrod and Tecoma stans) for solitary bees and butterfies. The verbescina is a native of the southeast called frost weed. My frost weeds are seven feet tall often teem wih butterflies. It pop's up all over the yard from runners

I recently took out a lychee tree, whose fruit I love, because it would not produce and was slowly dying. I will put fragrant plants or plant there. I am thinking of an orange champaca. I am a little worried that its fragrance may be too dominant, especially after its big. You all probably know that it is a temple plant for Hindus. I like temple plants many of which are fragrant familiar. Fragrant temple plants would be a good thread, right?

I am probably going to do some gardening in northern GA where it is very hot and humid for many months. Do you think these big lilies can withstand the heat and humidity?

Happy Sniffing

    Bookmark   October 16, 2011 at 1:08PM
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Robert (zone 7a, Oklahoma)

Wow! Ladylotus your garden is absolutely stunning and worthy of being featured in a garden mag!

Do you like Mock Oranges? I have a Philadelphus 'Snowbelle' which I absolutely adore when it blooms. I love the scent. If you sited it in a protected spot I think it would do fine.


    Bookmark   October 17, 2011 at 10:36AM
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ladylotus(Z3/4 ND)

Mike - Actually, I do agree with you about grass. It sure is wonderful when I cut grass and that smell wafts through my open windows. Now, it is a good thing it is too cold to open my windows in the winter...rot? ha ha

I do get a few hummingbirds in the spring and fall migration but I don't see them mid summer. I sure wish they would stay around. I feed birds and have a large variety. My favorite are the birds that eat the grape jelly I put out. I have several different orioles and a catbird that loves the jelly. It is fun watching the wildlife here.

I wish I could grow Azaleas or Magnolias here. Our soil is not acidic enough and they generally wither away no matter how much acid fertilizer I put on them. But I bet they must be magnificent in your yard.

I purchased Bloomerang Lilac and have been taking cuttings so that I can surround a garden right under my bedroom window with them. This lilac is supposed to bloom all garden season long. I hope that is accurate and they have a nice strong scent, as I'm ripping out about 50 rugosa roses and will be replacing them with my Bloomerang cuttings. The roses just did not form a nice hidden/secret garden like I was trying to acquire and did not produce enough scent.

I got the Dreaming Spires rose from Pickering in Canada. I LOVE it. In fact this was one that the owner at Pickerings suggested I get.

Orchidbee - Thank you for the information on your holstii it sounds to me like they will do very well in a pot. That is perfect for me as I would have to grow it in my greenhouse. I am going to wait until spring to get one just so that it has a good start in my greenhouse before the weather cools down.

The orange champaca you mention sounds wonderful. I wish I could grow something like that out in my gardens. You really have some neat plants you mention. I love looking them up and reading about their growing requirements.

I do believe the lilies can withstand the heat and humidity. The only thing I can think of is that the humidity will really intensify the smell. We don't have humidity very often but we had a lot of flooding this year which created a LOT of humidity and there were times with all the lilies I have that the smell was actually overpowering and just hung in the air. You could grow a lot of the oriental lilies and trumpet lilies which are very fragrant and are borderline hardy in our area.

Robert - oh yeah!!! Mock Orange trees really do have a wonderful scent. I have one called Blizzard which really does smell awesome. I really like the look of Philadelphus 'Snowbelle' I may have to purchase that one for a spot right by my patio.

Thank you all for your very kind comments.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2011 at 9:47PM
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Ispahan Zone6a Chicago

Ladylotus, thank you for the beautiful photos! Will you give us a run-down of your favorite lilies, either here or in a separate post? I have just become interested in fragrant Lilium and would like to learn more! :-)

Thank you,

    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 10:00AM
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mrao77(TX US zone 7)

Wow! Amazing garden! I am speechless :)
I can almost smell it..


    Bookmark   November 1, 2011 at 4:14PM
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ladylotus(Z3/4 ND)

Mrao - Thank you for the nice comments. I did get a little carried away with my gardens. I have large gardens and at times I wonder what I was thinking when I kept expanding.

Ispahan - There are so many that provide fantastic fragrance. Below I listed some that are very fragrant and do very well for me. I think any of the oriental, orienpets and trumpets have the strongest fragrance. If you grow any of these you will NOT need to bend over to put your nose in the plant. You can smell them across the yard.

Oriental/Trumpet hybrid 'Anastasia'
Oriental 'Time Out'
Oriental 'Tom Pouce'
Oriental 'Siberia'
Oriental 'Marco Polo'
Orienpet 'Silk Road'
Orienpet 'Luminaries'
Orienpet 'Mother of Pearl'
Orienpet 'Orange Crush'
Orienpet 'Caravan'
Orienpet 'Anastasia'
Orienpet 'Alchemy'
Longiflorum/Oriental 'Prince Promise'
Longiflorum/Oriental 'Queen's Promise'
Oriental 'Casa Blanca'

Also, if you can grow Trumpets...they are THE most fragrant and grew for me but as time went on they diminished and eventually perished due to the cold and the clay soil.

Good luck. There is a huge number of lilies that one can purchase. I added quite a few LA hybrids in the past few years also, but I can not say if they have a strong fragrance. I will have to do some smelling this summer.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2011 at 10:24PM
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ladylotus(Z3/4 ND)

Here are a few of my lilies;

Oriental 'Salmon Star' - This one is extremely fragrant.

Oriental/Trumpet hybrid 'Red Hot' - This one is also very fragrant and just stunning. This plant towers at 5' so that you can not miss this beauty.

Asiatic 'Karen North' - This one is so beautiful. It only has a very light fragrance but it too stands 5' tall and has many many blooms. They just dance in the air.

I will have to take more photos of my lilies next summer. They are so stunning in their garden presence as well as their fragrance.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2011 at 10:57PM
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Ispahan Zone6a Chicago

Ladylotus, your lilies are beautiful! Thank you so much for posting this information. I see from your list of recommended varieties that you are a fan of The Lily Garden and Judith Freeman. I just recently discovered The Lily Garden and placed 5 separate orders with them this fall (blushing). I have been blown away by the quality of Judith's bulbs as well as her generosity.

I recently purchased and moved into a property with soil that seems to be ideal for lilies and even a few raised beds already installed. Deep, deep sand with lots of organic matter. I even inherited a huge clump of Asiatics that yielded about 60 mature bulbs when I dug them up to divide and relocate this fall. I have no idea what color they are, so it will be a surprise next season. If anything, most of my soil here is so well drained that it will be a chore keeping the lilies moist enough during the growing season. And not to mention that it is alkaline (like all of Chicago), but guess nothing is perfect.

That said, I have gone crazy planting lilies this fall. They include the following:

Trumpets: Lilium regale, African Queen, Pink Perfection, Golden Splendor.

Orienpets: Anastasia, Silk Road, Alchemy, Caravan, Quintessence a selection from Luminaries), Invasion, Robina, Conca d'Or, among others.

LOs: Triumphator, El Condor.

Lightly Fragrant Asiatics: Karen North, Ariadne, Eurydice, Eros, Antique Lace, Rosepoint Lace, Peach Lace, Tiger Babies.

Other Non-Fragrants: Lilium henryi, Lilium pumilum, Citronella, Red Velvet, Scheherazade, White Henryi, Leslie Woodriff, Last Dance.

Because I do not have acid soil, I am staying away from the Oriental hybrids for now. I have heard they just dwindle away in alkaline soil and I never really see them thriving around here. I did plant quite a few Lilium speciosum (both rubrum and album) in one of my raised beds but I also sprinkled a large amount of slow release garden sulfur over the top of the bed to bring down the pH. Hopefully that will do the trick, especially if I remember to sprinkle sulfur periodically.

I am really excited about my new lilies, although I know many will take a year or two or three to really settle down and show me what they can do.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2011 at 12:55PM
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ladylotus(Z3/4 ND)


I do order a LOT from The Lily Garden and have spoken to Judith on numerous occasions about hybridizing lilies. She is a wonderful person with an abundance of plant knowledge.

Have you grown the Trumpet lilies before? I will be very curious if you are able to get them to grow in your area with your sandy soil. I have very alkaline soil also and hard clay which I work hard to keep amending. I bet you do have to water a lot with your sandy soil. I have trouble keeping the trumpets alive here and the orientals do ok. If I can get the orientals going they really do well. I use a lot of peat moss in the holes of my orientals. That seems to have really helped.

I do not have Invasion or Robina I will have to look these two up. The others you ordered are all very awesome plants. They really make a wonderful statement in the garden with their tall, airy appearance and their strong beautiful fragrance. Sadly, I JUST can not seem to get enough lilies in my gardens.

I can not wait to hear from you next summer once they all begin blooming. You will have to be sure to let me know how they all do for you.

Here is a photograph of Tiger Baby. It is a very tall GORGEOUS plant.

And a close up of Tiger Baby

Here is another must have...Asiatic 'Red Velvet'. It is beautiful and has multiplied quite quickly for me.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2011 at 9:05PM
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Ispahan Zone6a Chicago

Ladylotus, Tiger Babies and Red Velvet are stunning! I planted both this fall, Tiger Babies from The Lily Garden and Red Velvet from B-D. I can't wait to see them bloom next season. I know Red Velvet is supposed to be scentless, but how is the fragrance on Tiger Babies? The Lily Garden states that it is "lightly fragrant".

Invasion and Robina are Dutch OTs that were mentioned by posters on the Lily Forum at DG as being exceptionally fragrant so I just had to try them! :-) I found Invasion at The Lily Pad (they sent beautiful bulbs, too!) and Robina at B-D. B-D also has a pure white OT that looks much like Casa Blanca called Hacienda. It is supposed to be fragrant, too. I am so tempted to order it but I must resist...

I have never grown Trumpet lilies before so I am also curious to see how they perform. I live within a mile of Lake Michigan so my temperatures are somewhat moderated compared to even a few miles west. We seldom dip below 0 F and usually not for very long (windchill is another story however), and snow cover has been somewhat reliable for the past several years.

The best part of my sandy soil is that it was very easy to plant all of my bulbs deeply, and the bulbs themselves should be able to adjust their own depths in such friable soil. I am worried about the alkaline part, but was reading that most Trumpet hybrids and most hybrids with Lilium henryi and Lilium lankongense blood are somewhat lime tolerant. Have you found this to be true?

Thank you again for your beautiful photos!

    Bookmark   November 3, 2011 at 9:31AM
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Your garden pictures are splendid!!!! What great combinations of fragrant plants. Your pictures remind me of my visit to the botanical garden. They are quite inspirational, and I can only hope that I can get my garden to this level one day. Thanks for posting such gorgeous pictures.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 11:47PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Petunias don't get the attention they deserve in regard to fragrance. Not all are fragrant but the ones that are smell wonderful, and strong enough to waft.

A nice patch of cheddar pinks (Dianthus gratianopolitanus) can be very fragrant.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2011 at 10:39AM
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Ispahan Zone6a Chicago

Purpleinopp, I completely agree about *some* petunias. The old-fashioned vining petunias sold by Seed Savers Exchange have a sweet, powerful, delicious, wafting fragrance that could compete with almost any fragrant flower I know. I have grown them now for several years and every year I am surprised by the strength and quality of the scent. It is nothing like the coarse, sickening fragrance of modern petunias. Some of the popular Wave petunias have a scent that turns my stomach.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2011 at 2:50PM
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Robert (zone 7a, Oklahoma)

Woo hoo! I'm glad to hear about the old-fashioned vining petunias by Seed Savers Exchange having a delicious scent. I just received some in the mail and am looking forward to experiencing them next year. I've a soft spot for petunias since they were one of the earliest flowers that I grew after an old woman down the street kindly shared some seeds with me when I was a young boy. :)


    Bookmark   November 10, 2011 at 2:57PM
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Wow, that is some serious gardening talent! Only thing I might suggest might be some viburnums-

    Bookmark   November 13, 2011 at 2:34PM
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ladylotus(Z3/4 ND)

Restoner, very nice suggestion. I do not have that viburnum and am going to have to look into getting one. I see it is hardy to my area too. Do you have one of these? Does it have a really strong fragrance?

I do have a couple virburnum, Blueberry Muffin and a variegated one that has the most beautiful foliage called Viburnum lantana variegata. This is one gorgeous shrub.

Here is the Viburnum lantana variegata behind a purple lupine.

Also, a very good strong smelling shrub is the Mock Oranges as mentioned by Robert. Here is a picture of my Mock Orange behind Morden Snow Beauty rose.

So many wonderful plants that a person can add to a garden that allows a bit of a treat for the olfactory.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2011 at 9:19PM
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More beautiful pictures!

A friend of mine has Viburnum carlesii (one of the parents of Viburnum x juddii) that has an intoxicating scent that carries a good distance. I would grow it myself if I had any available sunny spots.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 9:04PM
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Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!!

Thanks so much Lady for this tour thus far. I just love your choice of fragrance. I have most of them, but in very short supply do to a much smaller space.



    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 9:41PM
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An amazing houseplant that I never knew flowered was the Dracaena Massengeana or Corn Plant. I had the opportunity to smell a mature plant flower and it was amazing. Large arching spires of cream tiny flowers with probably the most powerful scent I have smelled...You really can't get that close to it without getting a headache but the wafting power is unlike anything I have experienced..and I am a huge fragrance buff. Although not your common garden plant outside...many of us have these rather bland plants in our homes right under our own pun...and just are not giving the right growing conditions...

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 5:19PM
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