Think of the scent of blooming lilacs; that sweet, familiar smell immediately springs to your mind, perhaps taking you back to your grandmother's garden. Fragrance is the most powerful of all senses for triggering memories. Here are some thoughts in creating sweet garden memories of your own:
You will want to plant in a sheltered location so the perfume lingers. Usually the warmer the space, the more concentrated the aroma. Many fragrances are often stronger in the evening to attract pollinating night moths. Place plants in the vicinity where you spend time at night.
Take note of the prevailing direction of breezes. Locate your garden upwind.
Remember that low spots in your landscape also capture fragrance.
Site fragrant plants near doorways, entertainment areas, patios, open windows, screened porches, gazebos and pathways.
When selecting sweet-smelling perennials, pick a mix of spring, summer and fall blooming fragrant plants for constant perfume. In general, the lighter the flower color, the stronger the scent (white flowers tend to be the most fragrant, followed by off-white, pink, mauve, yellow and lavender blooms). Be careful not to put too many fragrant perennials close together as stronger scents can overwhelm more delicate ones. Plus, when strong scents mingle, the effect can be overpowering instead of pleasant.
Also remember to include some perennials with fragrant foliage. Their fragrance lasts spring through fall while flowers are only temporary. Some perennials with aromatic leaves (other than culinary herbs) include: Catmint (Nepeta), Lavender, Bee Balm (Monarda), Geranium macrorrhizum, Yarrow (Achillea) and Sweet Woodruff (Asperula odorata).
A Few Nose Pleasing Perennials:
Daylilies : White and yellow flowering daylilies are the most fragrant.
Lavender : All lavenders do best in full sun and well drained loose alkaline soil. In clay soils, may benefit from planting in raised beds.
Butterfly Bush (Buddleia) : Colors range from white, pink, purple, yellow and blue. All are mobbed by butterflies.
Bugbane, Snakeroot (Cimicifuga) : Chocolate-leaved Bugbanes sport luxurious foliage that is complemented by elegant wands of creamy-white. They have to be one of the most fragrant of all perennials.
Woods Phlox (Divaricata) and Garden Phlox (Paniculata) : These varieties are sweet smelling staples of the garden.