Northern Shade Gardening

Sweet Scents in the Garden

Saturday, May 31, 2008 Category: Garden Design

Sweet scents add another sensory layer to the garden. Two of my three favourite scented flowers are blooming in the garden right now, Convallaria majalis (lily of the valley) and Syringa (lilac). The third, Paeonia (peonies), are still in the bud stage, but will soon be adding their delicious fragrance to the garden potpourri.

Convallaria majalis (lily of the valley)The perfume from the white bells of Convallaria majalis (lily of the valley) floats over this shady bed. They are getting cozy with Matteuccia struthiopteris (ostrich fern) in this photo. Lily of the valley get cozy with a lot of plants in the garden, but I forgive them this habit when they bloom with beauty and scent in the spring.

Syringa vulgaris \'Wedgewood Blue\' (wedgewood blue lilac)This Syringa vulgaris ‘Wedgewood Blue’ (wedegewood blue lilac) has an intoxicating scent, and its blooms are just as beautiful to observe. The blossoms are a light lavender blue colour, but unfortunately my shrub does not produce many. It is in a part sun location, so it could be that there is just not enough light to produce a multitude of buds. I’ve had it for 5 years, so I would think it’s old enough now to produce more. This shrub is a smaller lilac, growing to about 2 metres (6 feet) when mature. Mine is about 5 feet now. It is planted near my bedroom window; the plan being that the fragrance would drift through my open bedroom window as I fall asleep. There are not enough flowers for it to carry that far yet, but they smell beautiful when I sniff them at close range. I’m still hoping that eventually the scent will drift into the house too. Lilacs are a wonderful shrub to add fragrance to your garden. I have more information and photos about Syringa vulgaris ‘Wedgewood Blue‘ in this follow up post.

Paeonia bud with ladybug and antIn this photo of the current peony bud, a ladybug looks on the hunt for aphids. I don’t know if it had a disagreement about this with the ant directly above it. I couldn’t observe it long enough to see who would win the rights to the peony bud territory.

Paeonia lactiflora ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ (Sarah Bernhardt peony) also produces a wonderful fragrance. It is in a part sun location, but it usually has many blooms, enough that the scent carries for a distance. This perennial is also planted near my bedroom window, but the smell does not waft through my window as planned either. It is definitely worth a walk to this area of the garden a few times a day when this plant is in bloom. I have to sniff its perfume, and observe its large pink overblown petals.

Paeonia lactiflora \'Sarah Bernhardt\' (peony)The flowers are so heavy that this peony needs a ring to keep it off the ground when in full bloom. I usually place a 2 tiered ring around it when it is about 30 cm (1 foot) tall. The one piece sturdy structure takes less than a minute to insert, and the foliage grows quickly to cover the support. This picture shows one side of the peony heavy with flowers from last year. Even in the part sun/shade exposure, this plant gets about 30 blossoms.

Peonies, lilacs and lily of the valley are 3 plants that will appeal to another sense in the garden, beyond their beauty. While strolling around, looking at the foliage and flowers (or more frequently bending over to pull a few weeds), I have a series of pleasant scents to enjoy.

You can read more about the  Sarah Bernhardt peony in this later post. Here is some information about Dianthus (carnation), another plant with a beautiful fragrance.

14 Responses to “Sweet Scents in the Garden” »

  1. Nancy Bond :
    May 31, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    How lovely everything is! The peonies are gorgeous…are those forget-me-nots? They make a great combination.

  2. Northern Shade :
    May 31, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    Hi Nancy, that’s lobelia planted under the peony last year. I like the way it forms a river of blue.

  3. chaiselongue :
    June 1, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    Thanks for visiting my blog and for introducing me to yours. The peony is beautiful. I shall enjoy your garden in a very different climate to mine!

  4. Northern Shade :
    June 1, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    Chaiselongue, ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ is my favourite peony. I love its exuberant fluffy petals.

  5. Barbara :
    June 2, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    How funny, I have just finished my new post and now I see that you have the same topic (I like very much the way you handled it). I love my scented peonies too. The lilly of the valley and all the various lilacs have already faded here. But there are other scented flowers to come in addition to the roses. Wonderful pictures as always.

  6. Northern Shade :
    June 2, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    Barbara, I love beautiful scents in the garden, but I don’t have as many scented flowers later in the season.

  7. Daniela :
    June 3, 2008 at 2:40 am

    Hi, tank’s for visiting my blog! Your have a beautiful garden. My Paeonia “Sarah Bernhardt” will also bloom in a few days. It’ll be the first time and I enjoy it so much, because I bought the plant four years ago!
    I wish you a nice Week!
    Greetings, Daniela

  8. Northern Shade :
    June 3, 2008 at 7:46 am

    Daniela, Your ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ took its time maturing. It’s a good thing that Paeonia live for so long. You should be able to enjoy the beauty and fragrance for many years now.

  9. Zoë :
    June 5, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    They all look wonderful and no doubt smell fabulous too. I wrote a while back that I think the fragrance of plants in the garden is more important to me than the sight of them. Paeonies are one of my all time favourites and the fragrance is heavenly.

  10. Northern Shade :
    June 5, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    Hi Zoe, I just came in from a garden walkabout, and I had to stop and sniff the lilac blooms. I’m still working on trying to get some of the more fragrant blooms closer to my windows to waft the scent inside.

  11. Jen :
    July 9, 2008 at 8:33 am

    What a beautiful post, very visual. And of course informative. Its interesting to see how we all come together as we come ” at ” gardening.

    Jen

  12. Northern Shade :
    July 9, 2008 at 10:50 am

    Jen, thanks. The lily of the valley and lilac are now a fragrant memory, but a few peony blooms still linger, despite a storm trying to deadhead them for me. I’ll have to work on adding more scented flowers for the summer, and later in the season.

  13. Martine :
    April 24, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    Thank you for a wonderful stroll down memory lane. I used to live in Edmonton and in Saskatoon, and their brief beautiful springs and summers, with the heavy evocative perfume of the peonies, and scented lilacs which bloomed around graduation time, suddenly all come back to me. I am a grandmother now, but your pictures make me feel like a young girl again! I too have a shade garden, out East, and encourage neighborhood children to come and learn the plant names and the joys of gardening. I can grow some raspberry canes in the semi-shade, and this makes them very popular with the kids. Il faut cultiver son jardin…

  14. Northern Shade :
    April 27, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    Martine, the lily of the alley are just coming up right now, and I’m eagerly awaiting the beautiful flowers and sublime scent.

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