Let scent be your guide in selecting flowers for your garden this year. Or at least let fragrance help you in deciding on additional flowers for your already existing plot.
Usually, most home gardeners pick, plan, and plot those flowers that are most beautiful to their eye. But why not take fragrance into account and blend eye attraction with fragrance appeal?
Rose enthusiasts know the possibilities of matching the twin attractions of sight and smell, although in past years the combination wasn't always possible. Many hybridizers were concentrating solely on producing the biggest and most perfect rose possible in colors and shapes. They certainly succeeded in those aspects but failed in producing delightfully fragrant roses.
The old-fashioned rose varieties and species, such as Cardinal de Richelieu, purplish red; moss roses, pink; Rosa centifolia, light pink; Rosa mundi, striped white and red; and York and Lancaster, pink, white, and variegated, were favorites in colonial gardens because of their high fragrances.
While these varieties lack the finished grace and form of our more modern roses, you needn't sacrifice these qualities to gain fragrance. For example, the hybrid tea, Mister Lincoln, combines beautifully urn-shaped red buds opening into many pelated flowers with an outstanding fragrance to produce a truly unique award winner in anyone's garden.
Another superb tea is Oklahoma. Cup your hands around the dark red-velvet petals to test its perfume. You'll be pleasantly surprised to inhale an ambrosial aroma you'll want indoors, too.
Also incurred in this category is Eiffel Tower, offering soft sweet fragrances. A good time to catch the fragrant intensity of a rose in the early morning before the fragrant oil has evaporated from the base of the petals.
While some roses give fragrance to the garden in the morning hours, many annuals scent the early evening and night airs. Because these beauties produce their aromas during the cool evenings around sunset, you might plant them near or around patios and porches where you would most likely relax and entertain.
One such night performer is the flowering tobacco, or nicotiana. The flowers are trumpet-shaped and the end petals from a five-pointed star looking almost likely a petunia. The stalks are tall and the foliage fairly bushy. Flower opening and scent take place at night on the older types although the newer Daylight variety, growing to about 1 1/2 feet, performs during the day and even sunlight.
Another nicotiana is the dwarf white Bedder, useful possibly for beddings. Mixed colors also make up part of the nicotiana family, ranging from white to purple, chartreuse, wine, red, and even chocolate.
Another night scenter is the Mathiola bicornis. This plant grows to about 18 inches and can perfume the whole garden with lilac-shaped flowers.
The money vine (Ipomoea noctiflora) is a flowering beauty that also scents the night air. Large white evening flowers appear on vines that grow to 20 feet.
Of course, other old stand-by annuals could be included in your garden. They are ageratum, alyssum, pansies, petunias, snapdragons, and sweet peas, depending on your choice of delicate or heavy scent. The migonette, particularly, gives off a delightful scent you'll want to repeat each year. Scattered seeds in a border produce graceful white spikelike flowers.
Also not to be excluded are the many varieties of perennials. If you're one to make a fragrance bag or sachet from your garden flowers, lavender has to be on your garden- planning list. July and August are hosts to the fragranted blue-flowered lavendula vera or officianalis. While this variety grows to about 18 inches, another, Lavender Hidcote Blue, is dwarf and reaches to only 9 inches. Its flower color is deeper and accented with silver foliage.
Still another scented perennial is the garden pink, Dianthus Plumarium. Single- and double-fringed or jagged flowers appear in early spring. A dense tuft of gray-green, grasslike leaves cushion dainty blooms above.
The Caprice helps make and keep good neighbors the way it disperses its scent over great distances. Foot-high plants, which sometimes are as much as two feet across, bear two- inch blooms with pink petals and maroon centers.
Of course, don't forget lilies of the valley, plantain lily, Hosta grandiflora, and lemon daylily (Hemerocallis falva).
If you put some of these flowers to work, you can close your eyes and still see a picture garden simply by experiencing the delightfully different floral fragrances.