In addition to being striking additions to the landscape, fragrant trees and shrubs add a lovely scent to your garden. Drinking ice tea on the garden patio while Jasmin is in full bloom makes summer nights truly magical, and a whiff of perfumed Clematis in the full swing of autumn will make you appreciate the beauty of the season even more. After all, sweet-smelling flowers are for year-round enjoyment: fragrant gardening is not only reserved for summer and spring flowering cultivars. With the right selection of scented garden plants, you can have a fragrant garden throughout the seasons.
While fragrant trees and shrubs will certainly make your garden smell and look wonderful, it is not the only benefit of scented garden plants. Fragrant gardening provides much-needed sustenance for beneficial pollinators, especially in the urban city environments where blooms are not in abundance, and during autumn and winter, when scented flowers are usually scarce. Many gardeners are actively aware of their role in the preservation of wildlife through the cultivation of scented garden plants and choose plants specifically to provide pollen for bees, butterflies and other pollinators.
In the end, whether you want to create an all-season fragrant garden for your pleasure, to help pollinators thrive or both, we have advice on choosing the best scented garden plants. Read on to find out which cultivars are recommended for different seasons and fill any ‘seasonal scent gaps’ your garden might have.
Fragrant Trees and Shrubs for Spring
Masses of cup-shaped blossoms will not only look lovely in the landscape but bring a light citrus fragrance to the garden. The gorgeous Yulan Magnolia offers multiple seasons of interest, with its floriferous display in the spring and masses of pink fruits in the autumn. Its compact size makes it suitable for small and large gardens alike.
An early bloomer, Daphne Odora is prized by gardeners and pollinators both. The lovely pink tubular flowers are an excellent source of nectar, and the divine perfume they spread across the garden leaves no one indifferent. If you like a sweet and spicy perfume that you can sense from afar (discreet rather than overpowering) you will love this compact evergreen shrub.
White Forsythia is a woody, multi-stemmed shrub that boasts a profuse bloom. However, unlike the related yellow forsythia, this scented garden plant produces most fragrant flowers. The sweet almond aroma of the blossoms is ideal for the spring season!
When it comes to fragrant trees and shrubs, Eastern Redbud Lavender Twist certainly counts among the more striking ones. The weeping habit of the slightly crooked branches and masses of lavender-pink pea-sized flowers that envelop them create a breathtaking display. Despite the name, this specimen tree does not smell like lavender – but its pleasant scent does attract pollinators to the garden.
Fragrant Trees and Shrubs for Summer
You cannot make a list of scented garden plants without including the magical jasmine. This particular variety, also known as Star Jasmine or Confederate Jasmine, is the one used in perfume manufacture. It goes without saying that this evergreen climber will fill your garden with tender yet intense true jasmine fragrance.
Borne on almost thornless stems, the large purple-mauve roses this cultivar produces have a light, fresh and fruity scent, often compared to the fragrance of the lily of the valley. The summer-blooming scented flowers attract pollinators and the rose hips that follow offer sustenance for wildlife.
This thornless False Acacia is often used as a street tree, its long yellow racemes offering visual interest and prompting passersby to stop and admire the lovely fragrant scented perfume in the air. The pleasant aroma of the flowers is reminiscent of orange blossom.
Also known as Sweetshrub Venus, this gorgeous large shrub offers year-round interest and opulent fragrance that lasts throughout the summer. The floriferous display of large, cup-shaped flowers will last for weeks, leaving an intense scent of watermelon and strawberry lingering in your garden.
Fragrant Trees and Shrubs for Autumn
The only variety of American Witch Hazel that blooms in the autumn, this deciduous tree is compact in size and ideal for smaller gardens. The distinct Hamamelis blossoms with crinkled petals will emanate a sweet and spicy perfume almost until first frosts.
With a repeating flowering season that lasts much longer than is usually the case with lilacs, Bloomerang Pink Perfume is a favourite of pollinators. Its sweet and intense lilac perfume is not something you will easily forget! A compact shrub with a high tolerance for urban pollution, this striking example of a scented garden plant is ideal for small city gardens or growing in containers.
This award-winning, autumn-flowering Camellia is treasured for its large, lightly scented blossoms. The pleasant aroma of the flowers is ideal to attract beneficial pollinators to a rooftop garden (as this cultivar can be grown in large containers). Similarly, you can plant Camellia Sparkling Burgundy en masse to create a fragrant flowering hedge in your garden.
As a dwarf, variegated variety, the Confetti cultivar can find its place in any garden. It can even be grown in pots to add interest to balconies or patios. The masses of pale pink blossoms it produces will invite bumblebees to visit and enrich your surroundings with a pleasant scent similar to lilacs.
Winter Flowering Fragrant Blooms
Honeysuckle Winter Beauty comes into bloom before Christmas and continues to flower until early spring, which is ideal if you want to provide pollen for wildlife during winter. Not to mention that the sweet, jasmine-like perfume of the tubular creamy flowers will enliven your senses during the dull colder months of the year.
The vibrant yellow flowers of Winter Jasmine will brighten up winter gloom and their light aroma will attract pollinators. As a climbing vine, this lovely winter blooming cultivar is best grown against a trellis or a wire structure.
The superbly fragrant Chinese Witch Hazel produces such an attractive perfume that it has the coveted RHS badge Perfect for Pollinators. Dubbed as the most fragrant of hamamelis varieties, this hardy shrub boasts winter flowers with a citrusy, spicy aroma.
A truly magnificent winter-flowering fragrant shrub, Wintersweet is popular for its nodding yellowish flowers that introduce a sweet and spicy perfume to the garden. The attractive multi-stemmed habit and medium size make it suitable for gardens of all sizes.
Tip – Scented Garden Plants are not just for seating areas. If you can, plant fragrant trees and shrubs at the front of beds and borders or close to pathways. As you brush against scented shrubs, you stir up and release the fragrance. Fragrant trees and / or shrub along a pathway means you get to actively enjoy nature’s sweet flowery scents as you stroll through the garden.