When it comes to scent in the garden, we naturally think of perfumed flowers, such as roses, sweet peas and honeysuckle.
Watch Monty’s video guide to creating an area for scented plants.
But the leaves of many plants contain aromatic essential oils that are released when a scent when picked, brushed past or crushed, adding a delightful dimension to your garden.
Here are some of the best plants for scented foliage.
The narrow, evergreen leaves of lavender are intensely aromatic – use plants to line a path and release the scent as you brush past. Prune after flowering to keep a good shape but be careful not to cut into old wood.
Pelargonium ‘Attar of Roses’
Many pelargoniums have scented foliage, but the rose-scented leaves of ‘Attar of Roses’ are some of the finest. Grow plants outside in pots in summer, but bring in during the winter – or take cuttings to ensure plants from year to year.
Myrtus communis is an aromatic, evergreen shrub with pretty white flowers in summer. It prefers a sheltered spot.
Monarda (bergamot or bee balm) has aromatic, citrussy foliage, and shaggy flowers that are extremely attractive to bees. It is prone to powdery mildew, so ensure that soil doesn’t dry out in summer.
Sweet bay (Laurus nobilis) is a very useful evergreen shrub that can be clipped into cones or standard balls for a smart look. The leaves can be used in cooking and can be dried. Shelter from cold winds and frost.
Salvia x jamensis ‘Hot Lips’
Salvia x jamensis ‘Hot Lips’ is a bushy, compact plant that has scented foliage (reminiscent of blackcurrants) and eyecatching red and white flowers. Plant it near a bench or path, where you appreciate its aroma and pretty blooms.
Like lavender, rosemary (Rosmarinus angustifolia) has narrow, evergreen leaves that are highly scented. The blue flowers are a magnet for bees. Add some stems to cut flower arrangements, use in cooking, or dry for later use. Grow in full sun, in well-drained soil.
Eucalyptus are vigorous evergreen trees with glaucous, aromatic foliage and attractive bark. They can grow quite tall but can be pollarded or coppiced to keep them more compact. The foliage is often used in flower arrangements. Shelter from cold winds.
Lemon verbena (Aloysia citrodora) has lemon-scented leaves that release their fragrance when crushed or brushed past. They can be used to make teas and syrups. It is not hardy, so bring indoors in winter, or take cuttings in late summer to ensure plants from year to year.
Cotton lavender, or Santolina chamaecyparissus, makes a neat, rounded bush, with finely divided foliage. It’s ideal for groundcover, to fill gaps at the front of the border, and is also well suited to growing in pots. It bears small, yellow pompon flowers in summer.