A forgotten element in the attraction of a wonderful garden is fragrance. Yes, we focus on color, on texture, on heights and bloom seasons. But there is something unforgettable about passing fragrant plants that reminds us of past times and places…that reminds us of passing the same plant in prior years. Open a window and let the sweetness drift into the home.

Mass planting of red roses

Details Landscape Art is a design-build landscape contractor with projects throughout the North Bay, including Sonoma, Marin and Napa Counties. In planning our garden design, we are sure to point out to the homeowner the benefits of certain fragrant plants. Although it is virtually impossible to describe a fragrance in words, some of our favorite plants with fragrant flowers or foliage are as follows:

  • Sarcococca ruscifolia – a great evergreen shrub that can tolerate full shade. Extremely fragrant flowers in mid winter followed by colorful red berries. Can be easily espaliered against a wall. Delightful under a north facing kitchen window, or near a shady entrance.
  • Star jasmine – versatile evergreen shrub or vine, can be grown in sun or shade, and sweet white flowers bloom from spring through summer long. Attractive to bees.
  • Choisya ternata – ‘Mexican Mock Orange’ – spring blooming evergreen needs afternoon shade. Fragrant white flowers bloom from late winter through spring and smell like orange blossoms. ‘Sundance’ is a more yellow foliaged variety.
  • Roses – there are hundreds of fragrant varieties, too numerous to name, but so many are known for reliable summer flowers.
  • Coleonema ‘Golden Sunset’ – there’s a reason why the common name is ‘Breath of Heaven’. The fragrance is in the foliage. When brushed against or touched, the odor is unmistakeable. Grab a handful and smell your hand! Looks great in contrast with burgundy foliaged plants such as berberis and lorapetalum.Back yard garden with japanese maples and blossoming trees
  • Carolina Jessamine – evergreen vine to about twenty feet, yellow tubular flowers bloom from late winter through spring.
  • Lavender – many varieties are available. Lavandula ‘Provence’ (French lavender) is prized for lavender flowers which are used for soaps, sachets, oils and perfume. Gray-green foliage is also aromatic.Mediterranean style garden featuring nFrench lavender
  • Citrus – Evergreen trees and shrubs, some available in dwarf varieties, require full sun and heat through the fruit developing period. Oranges, lemons, limes, mandarins and kumquats are somewhat frost sensitive. Glossy green leaves and fragrant flowers.
  • Buddleia davidii – extremely fast growing semi deciduous shrub, produces small fragrant flowers at branch tips in summer. Needs to be pruned back heavily in spring to control size. Common name is ‘Butterfly Bush’.
  • Daphne – many kinds are available, they are somewhat temperamental in California. They require moderate watering and fast draining soil. ‘Burkwoodii is a nice fragrant variety.
  • Magnolia stellata – hardy and slow growing, these deciduous ‘star’ magnolias show large three inch white flowers from late winter to early spring.
  • Lilac – large deciduous shrubs with big flower clusters at branch tips in spring.
  • Clematis armandii – this is the only evergreen clematis. Large white fragrant flower clusters in spring.

Fragrant plants are a delightful addition to a garden. They also may attract hummingbirds and butterflies as an added bonus.