Herbs are an obvious choice for delicious foliar scent. I can’t walk by a Rosemary bush without dragging my fingers across it. Lucky for me there are several planted in parking strips around the neighborhood. Stepping on or dragging the garden hose across the carpet of Corsican Mint releases a powerful burst of odor that can stop me in my tracks. I highly recommend planting this “stepable” in your garden.For me Basil is the smell of summer. This year my plants are growing along the front of the tomato and pepper stock tanks, when watering, picking a tomato (in an admittedly infrequent occurrence this year) or just walking by, you brush against the leaves and their distinctive scent fills the air.But there is another type of scent that I have been enjoying this summer. This awareness began in the most enjoyable of places. I was invited to a gathering of plant people, serious hardcore plant people. They were meeting at Sean Hogan’s house. Since Sean is the force behind Cistus Nursery naturally his personal garden is going to be a pretty amazing place. Well as luck would have it my visit was in the early spring, in the evening. By the time the gathering began it was already dusk. By the time I got a garden tour it was completely dark…so you guessed it. No pictures to share.
But as we carefully made our way around the garden my tour guide, Kate Bryant, mentioned the strong resinous smell that filled the air. On some level I had been aware of it but as soon as it was pointed out it became undeniable, and I was hooked.
In addition to being a garden writer, Kate is also a garden designer; whenever possible she incorporates that wonderful resinous scent in the gardens she designs. As you would expect, in her personal garden plants are placed where she can fully enjoy the aromas they provide. For example this large Cistus ‘Blanche’ is growing near her back steps, and it smells divine! She phrases it best: “I'm a crazed sensualist when it comes to foliar scent and that sticky, resinous Cistus 'Blanche' by my back steps is one of my favorites.” Last June she wrote a post on her blog Plantwise, about planting favored plants where you can really appreciate them…you can read that post here.My garden smells extra good now too, as Kate gave me a Salvia clevelandii 'alpine' from Xera. It smells AMAZING, thanks Kate! I still haven’t managed to find the perfect place for it to go in the ground. So in the mean time it’s in a pot on the patio…right next to the chair I like to set in. It fills the air with aroma of far away places, vacation places, relaxing places. For a few fleeting moments I am transported away and in sunny warm California. We had a freak rainstorm a couple of nights ago (over an inch of rain in less than an hour) and the smell in the garden the next morning was amazing. Of course the fresh air was lovely but that little Salvia was on overdrive. So wonderful…I’d love to learn more about what plants you depend on for fragrance in your garden, and you earn extra credit if they have nothing to do with flowers!