During the winter months, the lawn is crystallised with frost, the crunch underfoot signalling that the garden is in hibernation. As the weather warms up so does our intention to head back out into the yard. You’ll hear wheelbarrows being dislodged from the garden shed and the stir of lawnmowers ready for another season in the sun. A lot of our memories are associated with the senses, particularly smell. The scent of spring is often defined by the waft of freshly cut grass and the heady fragrance of soft lavender as it wriggles its way up your nose after being gently caressed by the spring breeze.
Gardens have the ability to be quite nostalgic; each time a fragrance is inhaled, a memory has been planted. Sowing a garden should include a plethora of fragrances from mint to citrus and rose. Like you would pick a perfume or body wash, planting fragrances should be an epitome of you.
Here we have included a guide to multipurpose plants with an aromatherapy quality which will have you planting and picking scents to savour all year round.
An easy herb to begin with, mint is simple to grow and is the perfect accompaniment to any recipe. Mint’s roots (known as ‘runners’) are incredibly invasive, growing quickly and sprouting up in new places, so it is best to choose wisely where you plant it. Try a pot or planter on a balcony or veranda so that the roots can be contained and moved according to its love of morning sun and partial afternoon shade. Whether planting in a garden bed or pot, ensure the soil is extremely moist to ensure the seeds and seedlings don’t dry out. The smell of mint is fresh and tangy and best picked before its tiny white flowers appear amidst the florets.
This plant, whether grown as a vine or a shrub, has a fragrance so distinct it is often the main ingredient in expensive floral perfumes as well as in herbal flower teas. The jasmine plant can be easily grown in a garden either along a lattice or as a low, loose shrub. These plants have a vigorous growth habit although they are tamable through regular pruning and shaping. You can find the best specimens of jasmine in tropical and sub-tropical climates with some varieties bearing metres upon meters of vines weaving through the garden. Protection against cold temperatures is vital to ensure the plant produces starry pink, white, yellow and ivory scented blooms. If you are restricted to indoor gardening, jasmine has a few dwarf varieties that require moist soil in a sunny window location and have manageable heights if cut back during the early stages of growth.
‘Silver Drop’ eucalyptus
Eucalyptus gunnii 'Silver Drop'
The wonderfully hardy foliage of this plant bears circular leaves in a chalky green hue. Native to Australia, the Silver Drop matures into a tree that blooms with soft white flowers in spring and summer. The plant can be fully exposed to sunlight in well-drained soil and emits a deep woody, almost spicy scent. The stems of this plant are often found both fresh and dried amidst a floral arrangement. The Silver Drop is a perfect filler plant for any garden due to its height and unique foliage. If you desire to grow this plant to its full tree potential, the leaves will grow like silvery scales twinkling in the sunlight. In medicine, this plant has properties used to relieve respiratory and sinus congestion and is often used in aromatherapy products such as bath oils and shampoos.
There is nothing more therapeutic than smelling fresh blooming lavender in a garden. The lavender plant needs a lot of light saturation to grow at its best, with relatively dry soil. Bearing silver foliage and deep purple-blue flowers, this plant is sweetly fragranced and is perfect for attracting pollinating bees and butterflies. Lavender is highly versatile; you can either plant it directly in a garden bed or in a pot. The plant works well in a perennial border and is commonly sold in dried bouquets for herbal and decorative purposes. Lavender is also known for its therapeutic properties helping to calm the mind and relieve stress.
If you are looking to extend your herb collection, look no further than rosemary. Popular both in the kitchen and the backyard, rosemary is a very vigorous grower, shooting upright with its skewer-like stems. Rosemary bears dark green upright needle-growing leaves that give off a strong woody, citrus pine smell. Rosemary makes a good informal hedge or is highly versatile as an indoor windowsill plant. Full to half days in sunlight is ideal and it needs regular watering but grows best in dry soil. You cannot mistake the aromatic smell of rosemary, whether it is in the garden or on your plate.
Often the first plant or flower that comes to mind when thinking of a small cottage garden is gardenia. The plants are a long-time favourite that boasts palm-sized white to ivory flowers with deep green glossy leaves. Gardenias fragrance is intoxicating; it’s a warm, overpowering smell similar to jasmine but lighter and less sweet. Gardenias grow well in many Australian gardens as they are native to subtropical and tropical climates. They demand high humidity and a lot of sunlight but be mindful when planting to allow for some shady space too, as when in bloom the flowers have a tendency to burn. The plant is an evergreen shrub that can grow into a metre-tall tree. Gardenias are not thirsty plants, so do not overwater, instead add a compost topper to ensure essential nutrients are feeding back into the plant while it’s blooming.
Once in bloom, this species will add colour and vibrancy to any garden. Phlox grows in a distinctive lance-shaped ombre in a range of purples, pinks and striking whites in ever-changing conditions including shade or full sunlight. There are two main types of phlox flowers: either small creeping ground cover flowers or tall clustered flowers on suspended stems. If you are looking for a continuous bloom, this plant is the one for you with a flowering season extending from spring right through to autumn. Phlox has needle-like leaves in a pale lime-green colour. Plant phlox in a sunny or partly shady position in your garden or alternatively sow in a hanging basket on a veranda. Depending on where you intend to plant these sweet-smelling flowers will determine their soil needs. Border phloxes need a heavy humus-rich soil and may need aeration while hanging baskets and potted indoor plants prefer a fairly light, damp soil. Phlox is often seen as a traditional plant and is often planted with other cottage favourites such as gardenia and the common garden rose. The phlox fragrance is like diluted honey with a punchy, sugary sweetness to it. These show-stopping flowers look perfect in any garden.