Scent Gardens of the South


Scent Gardens of the South

Cypress Gardens Angel Trumpet
Angel Trumpet

Historically gardens were filled as much with scent as with flowers. Favorite plants have been selected for bigger and longer flowering times, but their scents have been neglected in the process. Scentless gardens would have bemused the Greeks and Romans and amazed the Victorians.

Heirloom plants often have the strongest scents. Talk with your grandmother about the plants she grew up with and chances are that she’ll talk about the scent of star jasmine or tea olive blowing through the house, or the four o’clocks her mother put under her bedroom window.

Wisteria Tree

Memories of scents are often the strongest we have, with the sultry scent of gardenia always associated with the start of hot summer days Another advantage of these heirloom plants is their toughness and ease of cultivation.

Planning a scent garden can be as simple as adding a few favorite scent plants to your landscape. Or you might want to plan an entire garden around scent plants. Do you want areas with individual scents or do you want to mingle scents in pockets around spots you linger like arbors or garden benches? Is there a window that needs fragrance as well as flowers? With a little planning, we can have garden fragrances every month of the year.

Native Pink Azelea
Native Azalea

The array of scent plants is vast. A scent garden can be built around heirloom Southern plants like gardenia, magnolia, tea olive, banana shrub, damask roses and native azaleas. An arbor next to a window can hold roses, sweet peas and autumn clematis. Exotic tropicals that scent the evening hours including angel trumpets, ginger lilies and night-blooming jasmine. These are their strongest late summer to early fall, when heat keeps us out of the garden until the day finally cools off. Put them by the patio or pool.


Many of the most fragrant plants can only be enjoyed when touched or stepped on. In this group are the piney scents of rosemary, the freshness of mints, and many types of scented geraniums (rose, ginger, lime and nutmeg to name a few). Pathways can be lined with rosemary or false cardamon, and stepping stones inter-planted with thyme or mint. Think of these as “touchy-feely” scent plants and use them where you’ll brush against them.


When adding plants to your garden, keep scent in mind. Plant old fashioned sweet peas, alyssum and stocks in spring along with pansies. In summer, choose a few sweetly scented day lilies, and add some low-growing ginger lilies to your hostas. Mix fragrant jonquils with large cupped daffodils. Put tea olive and Florida anise among the camellias and azaleas. Instead of a plain evergreen hedge, choose Pittosporum with its rich spring flowers. It’s one of the toughest plants around and is salt-tolerant to boot. For fruiting and scent, remember citrus and loquat.

With all the options for adding scent to your garden, we’re sure you’ll find some plant to please you!

Planning for Year Round Fragr
Spring Alyssum, Banana Shrub, Citrus, Confederate Jasmine, Carolina Jasmine, Florida Anise, Jonquils, Magnolia, Native Azaleas, Pittosporum, Sweet Peas, Tea Olive, Wisteria
Summer Angel Trumpets, Clethra, Day Lilies, Four O’Clocks, Gardenia, Ginger Lilies, Honeysuckle, Lavender, Moon Flowers, Nicotania, Passion Flower, Roses, Star Jasmine, Tuberose
Fall Angel Trumpets, Eleagnus, Ginger Lilies, Roses
Winter Confederate Jasmine, Dianthus, Jonquil, Loquat, Tea Olive, Winter Honeysuckle
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