Step outside and smell the roses, plus a host of other scented flowers too. Choosing plants shouldn’t just be about their size, shape and colour but embrace their full sensory appeal, including the most evocative of all … fragrance!
Plants evolved fragrant flowers to attract pollinating insects, rewarding them with nectar and pollen they’ll discover within, but we enjoy their wonderful scents too. They have adapted to bloom at different times of year and varying times of day to suit their insect companions, such as moths attracted to evening primrose, pinks or honeysuckle. Gardeners can take advantage of this by picking fragrant plants to enjoy at the times of year they’re outdoors most.
Research on floral scents has highlighted their benefit to both mental and physical health by relieving stress and depression.
Scent can also improve memory, focus and wellbeing, particularly in combination with other sensory engagement with plants and gardening activities.
By growing fragrant plants we can enjoy these benefits too, whether you’re looking for something rosy and relaxing, oriental and intoxicating, or fresh and invigorating. Consider which scented plants to choose for creating the desired effect, such as the welcome fragrance of honeysuckle and roses around an entrance, the uplifting scent of lilies or lilac catching the breeze, or aromatic oils from Mediterranean herbs filling the air on a balmy summer’s evening.
For relaxation, the scent of lavender has been shown to lower blood pressure and heart rate to promote sleep, while aromatic rosemary keeps you alert, improving focus and memory. Sometimes a scent can even unlock a childhood memory, transporting you back to a time or place to help remember people and events in the past.
So forget the scented candles and grow your own aromatherapy plants instead, enjoying the simple pleasure of filling your garden with fragrance!