The fragrance in a garden is, arguably, equally as important as how it appears visually. Fragrance adds another dimension to a garden, it enhances what is seen and heard. The slightest waft of the intoxicating scent of roses or soothing aroma of lavender has the power to affect mood, trigger emotions and summon distant memories. There’s more to the connection than smells simply being ‘tied to memory’. Once a particular fragrance becomes associated with a certain emotion, just smelling it again has significance. This occurs because the olfactory nerves are connected directly with the brain and trigger an instant response.

Throughout the different seasons gardens create different delightful scents. So, we have rounded up for you a gardening seasons in scents.

Take a look below to find out what scents you can expect from your garden during Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter…

The gardening seasons in scents


Summer brugmansia x candida

Brugmansia x candida ‘Grand Marnier’

Spring garden scents


Spring Peony

Peony ‘Sarah Bernhardt’

Spring brings Lily-of-the-valley and a number of strongly perfumed shrubs such as mahonias, peonies, Viburnum x burkwoodii, lilacs and deciduous azaleas. A few magnolias hyrbids stand out in spring including ‘Jane’ or M. x loebneri ‘Merrill’, and the tiny pittosporum flowers are insignificant yet intoxicating.

Summer garden scents


Summer Hemerocallis corky (day lily)

Hemerocallis ‘Corky’ (day lily)

Summer is dominated by roses, but there are also exotic Angel’s trumpets (brugmansia), pink crinums, sticky cleomes, golden daylilies (hemerocallis) and buddlejas. For borders and near seating areas, tall regal lilies are hard to better for a divine perfume, but beware of brushing against them because the golden pollen stains clothing. Lilies go well with roses, interspersed with garlic to ward off aphids. Perennial phlox are also wonderfully fragrant, and come in a variety of colours ranging from white to pink or purple. Fragrance is not restricted to daylight hours, though, and there are a number of night-scented flowers – our favourites are listed over. The flowers are mostly pale-coloured so that they are visible at night to the moths and other insects that pollinate them. Summer is also the season when herb gardens peak, filling the air with vastly different aromas — aniseed from fennel, mint, thyme underfoot, bergamot and the pungence of bay or mildly antiseptic quality of rosemary when leaves are squeezed between the fingers.

Autumn garden scents


Autumn tulbaghia violacea

Tulbaghia violacea

As the days shorten, there are some unusual, tender exotic bulbs to look forward to. Eucomis comosa bears pineapple-like spikes of white and pale green coconut-scented flowers. Gladiolus murielae sends up tall spikes of strongly fragrant, funnel-shaped white flowers, nerines have a faintly musky scent and society garlic (Tulbaghia violacea), the fragrant rhizomatus perennial has purple flowers and leaves that smell of onions. Finally, it’s worth mentioning a pretty blue border clematis (Clematis tubulosa ‘Wyevale’) that smells of hyacinths.

Winter garden scents


Winter chimonanthus praecox

Chimonanthus praecox

Winter fragrance, from wintersweet (chimonanthus), witch hazels (hamamelis), shrubby honeysuckles (Lonicera x purpusii) and daphnes, is soft, subtle and surprisingly plentiful; nature’s ploy to attract pollinators and a welcome way to lift the spirits of any human who passes by.