by Ken Lain, the mountain gardener
Surprises abound in the gardens when it comes to uplifting scents. Brushing up against a Scented Geranium as it fills the patio with the taste of citrus. These plants not only smell great but also repel mosquitos and flies; most are javelina and animal resistant. That’s asking a lot from this list of aromatic plants.
Top 10 List of the Most Fragrant Herbs
Bee Balm, Monarda didyma – is another member of the mint family, along with Yarrow. It has one of the showiest herbal flowers that drives butterflies wild like catnip does for cats.
Catnip, Nepeta, is a member of the mint family famed for its effect on our feline friends. The fragrance drives them wild, affording humans fun entertainment. Catnip is one of the catmint plants found here at the garden center.
Lavender is virtually synonymous with fragrance. Perhaps the best-known aromatic herb is a potpourris staple; its flowers and leaves, especially after dried, have a fabulous smell. Lavender thus bridges the gap between plants with aromatic foliage and those with strongly scented flowers.
Plants with lavender-like fragrances are Daphne, Lilac, Viburnum, Lily of the Valley, Peony, and Roses.
Russian Sage, Perovskia atriplicifolia, is similar to lavender used in the landscapes as a subshrub. This one is not used in the kitchen, but with such a long blue bloom from summer through fall, few plants can match. Complete animal-proof from javelina and deer and very drought-hardy.
Sage has many uses, one being culinary and commonly used in stuffings. Tricolor Sage is not only used in the kitchen but highly prized for its garden beauty, boasting three colors of leaves on the same fragrant plant.
Sagebrush, Artemisia, is more closely related to wormwood. Silver Mound is short, tidy, and compact, making it useful as an edging plant. Silver King is a taller, wispier plant; the branches are dried in fall for use in wreaths.
Sweet Woodruff, Gallium odoratum – functions as a ground cover in landscape design. Its whorled leaves and star-shaped flowers bring cheer to shady areas of the gardens. The aromatic foliage intensifies when dried, making sweet woodruff herbs a natural for potpourris.
Thyme – Creeping varieties are most famous as a groundcover. It also comes in taller upright forms that are even more fragrant. We have dozens of types throughout the year so take a sniff at the garden center before buying.
Yarrow, Achillea millefolium,has a fern-like appearance in the garden. Often thought of as another perennial flower, it is considered an herb. It’s not coincidental that the name sounds like the Greek God Achilles. He used Yarrow and an herb to staunch wounds, so botanists gave his name to the plant.
3 Unusual Plants With Aromatic Leaves
Bayberry Shrub, Myrica pensylvanica, should not be confused with bay laurel, which also has fragrant leaves. The berries of bayberry are naturally appealing but included here because its leaves give off a pleasant aroma when brushed against.
Bluebeard,Caryopteris, is another sweet-smelling plant growing to knee height with bright blue flowers. It loves growing in the windiest parts of the garden.
Lantana grows as a spreading shrub in the hottest parts for the yard. It is not always included with aromatic plants but should be. Many find the citrusy fragrance intoxicating.
FUN GARDENING CLASSES are coming up that are sure to green up the thumbs of even novice gardeners. Classes are free and are held at Watters Garden Center at 9:30 on the following Saturday mornings.
September 3 @ 9:30 am – Top 10 Trees and How to Plant them – Privacy, shade, color, evergreen, and blooms. We cover trees from every angle. With so many choices, picking the perfect tree can seem overwhelming, but not after this class. Our horticultural team will be on-hand after the course to help with individual tree situations. Free tree planting guide to all attendees.
September 10 @ 9:30 am – Climbers & Covers in the Landscape. Vines quickly climb fence posts, pergolas, barbed wire, walls, and trellis. They block, screen, and shade better than any other plants in the nursery, but not all vines are created equal. Learn local favorites, sun, shade lovers, and all the advice to get these bloomers climbing.
September 17 @ 9:30 am – Easy to Grow Mountain Plants – Rock landscapes without these core plants tend to look strange, immature, and lacking. Learn how to garden with these simple but effective planting combinations for a design that WOWs all four seasons of the year.
Until next week, I’ll be here at Watters Garden Center helping local gardeners’ with funner fragrant plants.