Fragrance Landscaping

“The fragrance always stays in the hand that gives the rose.”
– George William Curtis

From left to right: Rosa Rugosa, Lavender, Honeysuckle, and Lilac are all fragrant perennials for your landscaping.

October is prime time for planting trees and shrubs. Even planting into November works well. Unfortunately, end of season inventory means there’s less selection. One of our clients gave us the skinny on how she planned to revamp the landscaping for the home she just purchased. She called it ‘fragrance landscaping’. She graciously offered to share some of the plants on her list, which we found quite enlightening.

For trees, two were favorites; Yellowwood (Cladrastis Kentukea) and the Chaste tree – (Vitex agnus-castus). The Chaste tree is more common in the southern zones but is being successfully planted in southern areas of zone 5 with some occasional winter dieback. The Yellowwood produces showy, sweet-smelling white-yellow flowers that mature into long, slender pods. It is called “yellowwood” because it produces a yellow dye that imparts a yellow cast to the heartwood. Interestingly, the largest known specimen in the world, (by diameter) is at Spring Grove Cemetery, measuring over 72 feet tall and with a trunk diameter of over 7 feet. The Chaste tree is prized for its delicate-textured aromatic foliage and butterfly attracting spikes of lavender flowers in late summer in cooler climates. Other trees for fragrance include Dogwood, Magnolia, Golden Locust, Sourwood, and Fringe tree.

There are more fragrant shrubs that you can shake a stick at, but short list would include:

  • Bluebeard, Caryopteris
  • Carolina Allspice, Calycanthus floridus
  • Summersweet, Clethra
  • Cherry Laurel, Prunus caroliniana
  • Lavender, Lavandula stoechas
  • Lilac, Syringa congo
  • Fragrant Honeysuckle, Lonicera fragrantissima
  • Rosa Rugosa, Hamanasu
  • Russian Sage, Perovskia atriplicifolia
  • Korean Spice Viburnum, Viburnum carlesii

In addition to the lovely aroma produced by these fragrant flowers, there is another wonderful benefit to fragrance landscaping. Many of the plants recommended here will also attract native pollinators to your yard. Habitat loss, pesticide, disease, and invasive species are all contributing factors for their recent decline. Providing a natural food source will help support the recovery of our friendly pollinators.

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