Finding Fragrance: Growing Scented Flowers

Don't you love it when a catalog or advertisement for a plant describes it as rare? It's fine if it really is--an albino Cardinal; a perennial that blooms for five months; a free lunch.
Okay, so the term is relative, but it loses its cachet when it's used to describe 90 percent of the plants in a catalog. A rare concept in plants is fragrance. It's hard to find roses with a rose scent these days, and I've seen people taking on an indignant look after sniffing a peony and not being rewarded with that sentimental peony scent.
Oso Easy 'Peachy Cream' rose
Today you have to do your homework to find fragrant plants. They're out there, though, and some have scents more elusive than others. I love the fragrance of Rosa Oso Easy 'Peachy Cream' from Proven Winners. While not overpoweringly-rosy, it's definitely there. This diminutive rose puts on a fantastic show even in my less than sunny location, however it gets taller than described because it's reaching for more sun.

Old-fashioned sweet peas can be
counted on for fragrance.
Because you never know when northwest Indiana will be struck with California weather, I try to plant sweet peas as early as I can in the spring. Who knew I could probably haveplanted them in late-January?
Since the sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus) began to open it's been cold and rainy, not the best circumstances for catching and enjoying a scent. But as soon as the flowers dry and the sun appears, I'll be inhaling their incomparable fragrance.
Meanwhile, I've come to subscribe to the belief that if a little is good, a lot is better. This goes only for scented plants, not their derivatives. I created a modern-day Tussie Mussie that consisted of Dianthus 'Heart's Desire', Lavender, Lobularia (sweet alyssum) and Reseda odorata (more on this plant in a later post). The combination still gives off a pleasing scent, but not as enchanting as when the sun hits the flowers on a dry windless afternoon.
From bottom left: Lobularia, lavender, Dianthus and Reseda odorata.

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