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In springtime it’s not hard to find plants that offer, not only colorful blooms, but intoxicating scents too. With this in mind, I seek out varieties that are known for their fragrant flowers.
Daffodils, of which I believe one can never have enough, are a fragrant bunch and as plants go, they are easy to grow. Just make sure they get enough sunlight (six or more hours of full sun is best) and a well-drained soil Daffodils are known to be poisonous, and typically rodents and deer leave them alone. There are always exceptions when it comes to deer, but I know of gardens where the daffodils have persisted long after the house and its owners were gone. Some of my favorites include Narcissus jonquilla, Narcissus ‘Cheerfulness,’ ‘Geranium,’ ‘Sweetness,’ and ‘Thalia.’
Hellebores make good companions for daffodils as they help mask the unsightly foliage of the daffodils when it is ripening.
My garden is only big enough to accommodate a few choice roses therefore, if a rose doesn’t have fragrant flowers, it doesn’t make the cut. I tend towards the old fashioned types and one with a wonderful perfume is Rosa ‘Perle d’Or.’
I have grown this carefree beauty for years and am rewarded with masses of small apricot pink blooms in spring, then on and off during summer followed by another flush of flowers in fall. I use it as a shrub in my mixed border, cutting it back as needed. Another fragrant rose, ‘Zephirine Drouhin,’ is a rambler that I have trained on a structure. This thornless wonder blooms heavily in spring, with sporadic flowers in summer and fall.
Azaleas are popular in many parts of the country and there are varieties that bloom in spring and then again in the summer and fall. While this is not the case with most of the natives, many including Rhododendron austrinum, known as Florida azalea (hardy from Zone 7 to 9), and R. canescens, Piedmont azalea (hardy from Zone 5 to 9), produce spicy flowers that more than make up for the fact that they only bloom once a year. With the Florida azalea, blossoms appear on naked stems before the foliage. These adaptable natives will grow happily in part-shade or full sun. One of the common names is wild honeysuckle, probably a reference to the scent of the blooms.
There are numerous spring blooming trees with fragrant flowers but, if I had to pick only two, one would be Magnolia macrophylla, bigleaf magnolia, with huge fragrant blooms and leaves, this beauty adds drama to the landscape, no matter what the season.
My second pick is Styrax obassia, also called fragrant snowbell, with white fragrant flowers in spring, handsome green summer foliage and in autumn the leaves that turn yellow.
This article is the second article in a series of four about creating a garden that offers delightful scents in every season. To read the first article about winter fragrance, click here.