Lilium regale

Flowers with summer scent

Monty Don picks some of his favourite plants for summer scent.

Good plant combinations involve a balance of texture, form and colour. Then there’s a fourth dimension – scent.

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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.

The secret is knowing when to stop – nobody wears three or four different perfumes at once.

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

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Chinese lilies

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

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Tobacco plant

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

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Lonicera ‘Serotina’

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

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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

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Chocolate cosmos

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

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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

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Sweet peas

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

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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.

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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