What makes a garden? Many factors make up a garden, we have colour, movement, sound, texture and of course the busy wildlife… both good and bad. But, if you take away the ability to see the colour and movement you are still left with the sounds and texture, but it’s  the smells of the garden in particular the  scent you get from the plants take over from the colour. Or putting it another way, how many of us have sat in the garden and closed our eyes just to take in the smells and sounds of the garden.

For me, scent is the most important factor of a garden and if used  well it gives the garden another dimension. This can range from the subtle little whistle you get when you are walking through a garden that makes you go back to investigate, or to the less subtle… ‘what’s that bloody smell’. Sometimes admittedly the ‘what’s that bloody smell’ can either be a Fox or the compost heap… I’ll come to that one later.

And scent can be found all year round in the garden…


The Winter we have the wonderful Hamamelis (Witch Hazel) known for having a spicy fragrance and spider like flowers.

My personal Winter favourite has to be Chimonanthus preacox (Winter sweet).

But we also cannot forget the good old Sarcococca confusa (Sweet box or Christmas box), too many Sarcococca to list they originate from China and the Himalayas and is related to the Common Box.

Now for my all time favourite plant of all… Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata. A beautiful evergreen shrub, that has the most perfect of all scented pale pink/purple flowers from February. A must have plant.


Scented everything for this time of year… well nearly everything. Far too many to list anyway, so I have chosen just one… Azara microphylla. An evergreen large shrub or small tree, with small yellow vanilla scented flowers in April. We have several of these in our gardens including Azara microphylla ‘Variegata’, they smell good in the spring and look good all year round.


Philadelphus ‘Belle Etoile’ (Mock Orange) a firm favourite amongst gardeners. A medium sized shrub that has white fragrant flowers in early summer, fully hardy and often grown along side paths so the fragrance is fully appreciated.

Again too many to choose from, so I’m going for another favourite of mine… Heliotropium arborescens ‘Chatsworth’ (Cherry pie/ Heliotrope ‘Chatsworth’), this has the best scent of all. It is a tender perennial with a scent has been likened to cooked Cherries.


Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Charles Lamont’ has pale pink tubular flowers from October right through to the new year, it is an upright medium sized deciduous shrub.

Abelia × grandiflora is a semi-evergreen shrub and has slightly scented pink flowers from late Summer through to the Autumn.

The Compost Heap

What a wonderful all year round aroma this has and the great thing is, in the summer when it is warmer, it’s wonderful scent is even more noticeable… especially when disturbed.

Oh, I deliberately left out Roses… that’s for another time.

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