Good plant combinations involve a balance of texture, form and colour. Then there’s a fourth dimension – scent.
Monty Don recently turned his attention to creating a scented garden at Longmeadow. Watch Monty’s video guide to creating an area for scented plants.
Monty says: ‘The secret is knowing when to stop – nobody wears three or four different perfumes at once, so a small garden crammed with scent will muddy your sensory palette.’
So choose your plants carefully – maybe those that flower in succession over a period of a few months, or a mix of plants that flower during the day and in the evening.
Here are some of Monty’s favourite plants for summer scent.
Pelargonium ‘Pink Capitatum’
A scented leaf type of pelargonium, with a delicious rose fragrance. Bring indoors to protect from frosts. Find out how to increase your stock by taking cuttings of scented-leaf pelargoniums.
Height x spread: 45cm x 30cm
Pink pelargonium flowers
The huge, headily scented trumpet blooms of Chinese lilies, Lilium regale, appear in midsummer. They are easy to grow and make fabulous cut flowers. Plant bulbs in autumn; they require good drainage.
Height x spread: 1.5m x 30cm
Huge, white and yellow, trumpet-shaped Chinese lily blooms
Tobacco plant, Nicotiana sylvestris, is night scented, with tall stately stems and elegant white blooms. Grow in a sunny or lightly shaded spot. Great for cutting – picking the flowers prolongs the flowering until autumn.
Height x spread: 30cm x 30cm
Elongate, white flowers of the tobacco plant
Lonicera periclymenum ‘Serotina’ is a sweetly scented, late flowering honeysuckle that blooms until the frosts in autumn. Red berries follow the flowers. Grow up an arch or pergola or along a fence – it combines well with roses. A magnet for garden wildlife.
Height x spread: 7m x 1m
A pink honey-suckle bloom
Rosa ‘Paul’s Himalayan Musk’
Rosa ‘Paul’s Himalayan Musk’ is a highly fragrant rambler with exquisite blush pink flowers in May and June. Like most ramblers, it only flowers once, but in great abundance. Discover the best rambling roses to grow.
Height x spread: 9m x 9m
Pale-pink blooms of rambling rose ‘Paul’s Himalayan Musk’
Chocolate cosmos, Cosmos astrosanguineus, is late-blooming variety, grown for its delicious chocolate fragrance and maroon-red flowers. Ideal for a hot, sunny garden, it makes a good cut flower.
Height x spread: 75cm x 45cm
Deep-red/brown chocolate cosmos flowers
Night scented stock
Night-scented stock (Matthiola longipetala) may have delicate flowers, but they release a powerful perfume as dusk sets in. They are easy to grow from seed. Discover more plants for evening scent.
Height x spread: 30cm x 30cm
Tiny, pale-mauve flowers of the night scented stock
Summer wouldn’t be summer without sweet peas, Lathyrus odoratus, grown up an obelisk or wigwam. There are hundreds of varieties to choose from – some of the most scented include ‘Matucana’ and ‘Cupani’. Watch Monty Don’s video guide to growing sweet peas.
Height x spread: 2m x 10cm
A bronze/purple sweet pea
Scent all year
With a bit of planning, it’s possible to enjoy scent in the garden all year round. Find out how to plant scented plants for every month.
White blooms of the mock-orange
Other scented summer plants
Oenethera biennis – evening primrose. Flowers are most strongly scented at night
Rosa ‘Alba Semiplena’ – all of the ‘Alba’ roses are strongly scented
Philadelphus – known as mock orange, the white flowers have an orange blossom scent
Cestrum nocturnum – night-blooming jasmine
Jasminum officinale – an unmistakeable jasmine scent
Trachelospermum jasminoides – a jasmine scented, evergreen climber