Perennials for Fragrance
Though I live in Miami now, I grew up in the North (Minnesota) and always has perennials in the gardens around my home. I especially liked fragrant perennials; a pleasant scent is the perfect way to add dimension to the yard. Here are a few of my favorite fragrant perennial flowers.
I almost always had a dianthus or two in my gardens. In addition to having spicy, clove-scented flowers, I love the plants' foliage texture (especially varieties with silvery-blue leaves). There's a wide variety available, mostly in shades of red, pink, apricot, and white. The variety 'Firewitch' is an award-winning classic I've always loved, but there are a host of newer varieties that bloom longer into the season. 'Kahori' blooms almost constantly from spring to frost, for example.
Here's a hint: Dianthus are typically most fragrant when it's warm and sunny; plan to use them where you'll be able to enjoy that fragrance to the fullest.
Most folks don't associate easy-care daylilies with fragrance, but there are some standout varieties (such as 'Pardon Me' and 'South Seas' that offer a great scent in addition to their no-fuss nature). Watch for daylily varieties that are both fragrant and rebloom -- they give you more blooms throughout the season.
Old-fashioned bearded iris are the perfect way to start the gardening season. With their classic blooms, sword-like foliage, and wonderful fragrance, bearded iris are a no-brainer in the garden. And, because they come in practically any color you can imagine (and bicolors, too), it's easy to get the perfect look for you.
Note: Different varieties have different fragrances, so you might want to sniff as you shop to be sure you get the scents you like best. One of my favorite irises was an old almost-black variety that had flowers smelling of grape soda.
In late summer, Oriental lilies steal the show in the garden. With their huge waxy flowers in a mix of colors --- from reds and pinks to whites and yellows --- they're outstanding cut flowers if you bring them inside. But be warned; some folks say their scent is too strong in a closed room!
Here's a hint: Oriental lilies are a little fussier to grow than some of their cousins. Planting them in a spot rich with organic matter makes a world of difference. Mix in lots of compost if your garden has clay soil.
Garden phlox is one of my all-time favorite hardy perennials. I love its look, its easy-care nature, and its sweet fragrance. Blooming in late summer, phlox always attracted lots of hummingbirds and butterflies to my garden, too.
While summer phlox like sun, you're not out of luck if you're a shade gardener. Look for spring-blooming woodland phlox to add fragrance to spring shade gardens.