There’s no experience quite like that of encountering a smell or fragrance that instantly triggers a powerful memory. We’ve all had it happen at one time or another. Every few years I’ll come across a very specific lavender scent that completely transports me to the clean and tidy bathroom at my Grandpa’s house in the Missouri countryside. I don’t remember much from that particular visit, but when that smell hits me I’m 8 years old again, standing in the open door looking out onto the living room sofa that is being illuminated by the soft orange of the wall mounted night light.
Fragrance is powerful in the human mind, and plants are one of the greatest sources of those sweet smells. Of course, garden fragrance isn’t just about childhood memories. The delightful aroma of fragrant blooms and leaves can be calming, pleasing, enticing, or even exciting! Fragrant plants will add a layer of sensory experience to your garden that will make it a much more enjoyable place to play. Bringing sweet smells to the shadier parts of you garden means that you will be able to go out and enjoy them even in the hot summer. Maybe you’ll make a few new memories of your own.
Design Ideas for Fragrant Plants in the Shade:
- Plant lots of the same fragrant plant in one area, to create a huge olfactory impact when it blooms.
- Plant a mix of fragrant plants in one space to create a scent garden that will always have at least a little bit of good smells through the entire year.
- Plant fragrant plants in containers that live on a deck or seating area so they can be enjoyed up close by you and your guests.
- Plant underneath windows that can be opened to bring the fragrance indoors.
- Grow fragrant plants on either side of your front door to welcome all your guests with a lovely treat each time the come over.
Great Fragrant Plants for the Shade:
Everblooming Banana Shrub
You won’t believe how amazing these smell until you sniff one yourself. Small 1-2 inch blooms look like miniature Southern Magnolia flowers and smell just like sweetened bananas!
This is one of the longest blooming fragrant plants for our southern gardens. These evergreen shrubs start to bloom in early fall and continue straight through till spring. Flushes of small white blooms have produce a big sweet scent. Traditional Tea Olives bloom white, but there are less common red, yellow, and orange flowering varieties as well. Likes filtered light or bright shade.
One of the greatest, Gardenias are classic summer scent! Thick, sweet fragrance drips from white Gardenia blooms in summertime. There are many varieties of Gardenias that grow best in different climates. Be sure to choose ones that are proven in your climate. August Beauty, Mystery, and Everblooming are 3 great choices for North Florida.
A fast growing evergreen vine that would be wonderful just for its usefulness in covering ugly fences. Star Jasmine flowers in late spring with so many sweetly fragrant white blooms that it can overwhelm the senses.
Native Ocala Anise
The leaves of this native shrub are the star of the show. Ocala anise has lovely fragrant leaves that smell like sweet licorice. I always run my hand along this shrub when I walk by them to take the lovely smell with me for a few minutes. Ocala Anise comes in a large growing green form and a compact colorful golden yellow form.
Native Sweet Shrub
This deciduous shrub is right at home in natural woodland gardens. Sweet Shrubs bloom in spring with purplish flowers that smell exactly like sweet berry pie! I’m not kidding! There are even a few varieties of Sweet Shrub that offer larger blooms than the wild form.
High Fragrance Camellia
Fragrance in the winer can be hard to come by, but not if you have High Fragrance Camellias in your garden. These hardy evergreen shrubs bloom in mid-late winter with ruffled pink blooms that smell like antique roses! Most “fragrant Camellias” leave a lot to be desired but this one is the real deal.