That Sweet Smell

Thursday, April 5th, 2012


I always know summer is coming when I am driving along and smell fresh cut grass for the first time. That sweet, clean smell of summer makes my mind flash a thousand memories. Humans are visual beings by nature. Color and light attract us very powerfully, but fragrance can have a much stronger hold. Our sense of smell can bring back memories long forgotten. Unique among the senses, the scent message passes directly through the limbic system, the emotional center of the brain. When designing a garden both sight and smell can be addressed. There are many ways to bring fragrance into a garden.


When thinking fragrance the obvious choice is a rose. Who hasn’t buried their nose in a rose to retrieve a whiff of their signature aroma? Hybrid lilies can be detected from a distance in the breeze. Their scent is very strong. Some plants such as bee balm, alyssum, and catmint release their scent when you walk through the garden and brush against them.

You don’t need to be limited to flowering perennials to bring fragrance into your life. The smell of fresh rain on a stone patio or even scent a crisp spring morning can invoke peace of mind. Flowering shrubbery such as Lilac and Viburnum have great aroma. Viburnum Korean Spice has a beautiful pinkish bloom and a spicy sweet scent. Many trees have fragrant blooms as well. A local example is Black Locust. They are thorny, but when they bloom look out. Sweet Bay Magnolias are very fragrant and have wonderful red seedpods and white blooms.

Think about fragrance in your garden. Fragrant flowers will heighten the sensory experience and may just bring back some heart-tugging memories. Just breathe deeply and enjoy life!

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