A short time ago, I hopped out of my truck in a parking lot in Hope and said to myself, “Wow! This smells like I’m on holiday in Hawaii or California!” Fragrance and smell have a deep-seated connection with memory. Of course, I went hunting around in the dark for what it was, much to my kids’ consternation. Years ago, at my first greenhouse job, I remember how awesome watering a greenhouse full of petunias smelled on a warm spring day. Petunias, pansies — as a young fellow at the time I could barely tell them apart. Even today, I still enjoy watering my greenhouse crops — the early morning sun shining and all the little annuals smell fantastic!
I had my daughters grow some cut flowers in our garden this spring for fun. They were able to make some beautiful bouquets that they sold at the farmers’ market over the summer. The extras were enjoyed by the family well into the fall — sweet peas, asters, zinnias and spicy smelling carnations. I added a few stems of roses and sprigs of whatever interesting foliage looked good at the time. I’m sure that most people are aware many roses provide a strong fragrance. As the saying goes, taking the time to stop and smell the roses is a great thing to do. Besides old-fashioned roses noted for their perfume-like scent, many of the new and easy-to-care-for roses smell great too.
More low maintenance plants that smell awesome are the daphnes. There are a few different varieties or types of this shrub. Some are a little harder to transplant, so they come in a fibre pot you simply drop into your garden spot. Once established, they require no effort, even in a rock garden.
We also carry plants like the dwarf Korean lilac and mock orange, which are drought tolerant (low water consumption) plants that smell wonderful. The aforementioned lilac has dainty leaves and flowers, grows well in sun or part shade, and has fall colour.
The mock orange can be a compact form of three or four feet or larger forms to five or six feet high and wide. Single or double fragrant flowers with a scent reminiscent of orange blossoms, hence their name. Other fragrant plants include vines like Clematis montana var. rubens (“Tetrarose”) and the evergreen climbing hydrangea (integrifolia).
Magnolia trees blossom and provide colour and fragrance in the late spring. We usually offer three or four kinds in the spring growing from something of a large shrub to a good-sized tree form. Crabapples offer a multitude of flower and leaf colour combinations with usually a fairly compact tree. My favourite smelling tree is probably the Katsura tree. It gets big, to 50 or 60 feet. The leaves smell of cotton candy late summer through fall. The red flowering currant is both native and fragrant; “King Edward VII”, for the spectacular red flowers, grows to about five feet.
Some perennials that smell great and don’t take up too much space are hosta (“Frangrant Bouquet”) and agastache (“Blue Fortune”), or how about wild ginger? Speaking of growing wild, every time I cut the grass in our backyard, I’m walking on spearmint that has escaped the flowerbed. I love it. How about some fresh rosemary on your chicken?
There really is no shortage of great smelling plants for any size of yard. You really or only limited by your imagination here. Hope to see you in the spring!
Evan Davies owns Beltane Nursery at 2915 Highway 3 in Erickson.