A Midsummer Night’s Dream: The Scented Garden

scent_roseBy day, the colors of the Cape Cod garden are in full swing right now. Hydrangeas, daylilies, grasses and wildflowers are bursting into bloom. But this is also the time of year when you will want to linger on your patio into the dark hours of night, and when darkness falls, the colors of the garden fade away. That’s when the hidden layers of the garden will really stand out: scent. Planting flowers and shrubs that smell good will add a texture to your garden that cannot be seen, but will still enhance those after dinner-hours when you cannot bear to go back inside. Roses, pictured above, are one of the signature scents of Cape Cod. Here are a few other lovely-smelling plants that are blooming on Cape Cod right now.

Clethra (Summersweet): A native shrub with white or pink flowers, clethra will thrive at the edge of a woodland or in a partially shaded spot in your yard. This shrub produces flowers that smell lovely in the heat of late July to Early August and is also known as sweet pepperbush.


Nepeta (Catmint): Like its relatives (mint and catnip), catmint has minty fresh smelling leaves, and its flowers peak in July. Some varieties of catmint can be cut back for a second flush of bloom later in the summer. Pair it with Perovskia (Russian Sage) which begins to bloom just as catnip is fading. That way you will have a cloud of lovely smelling purple flowers all summer long.


Lantana: This annual smells amazing when planted in your windowboxes or patio planters. Pair it with heliotrope or annual salvia for a rich bouquet of color and fragrance.


Buddleia (Butterfly Bush): This profusely flowering shrub sends out waves of intoxicating perfume and attracts all kinds of pollinators. These days, the butterflies and bees need all the help they can get. It comes in a variety of sizes and colors from whites, pinks, purples, and even some bi-color cultivars.


Abelia: This arching shrub is exceptionally long-blooming from mid-summer to fall, and has a scent comparable to Lilacs.


Rose: Every rose’s scent is different, and they vary from no smell, to light lemon scent, to full-blown intoxicating perfume. Smell every rose in the garden center if you have to before choosing one, but don’t leave these out of your fragrant garden. White roses will especially show up well in a night garden. Try edging your rose beds with fragrant catmint, lavender, or germander.

scent_white rose

Where should you put your favorite scented plants? Along a path, near a patio, or below an open window are great choices that will ensure this hidden layer of your garden will not be missed. What is your favorite scent in a garden? We’d love to know!scent_pink rose


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