Home Plants I Love Planting Perfume: Fragrant Plants You Won’t Forget

Planting Perfume: Fragrant Plants You Won’t Forget

Planting Perfume: Fragrant Plants You Won’t Forget

Fragrance plays a magical role in the garden; it transforms a fleeting moment in time to a lifelong memory, an invisible touchstone to a place, person, or celebration. The potency of its spell is rarely diluted or weakened; instead the delicious scent rests in your mind, awaiting to be awakened when a simple step forward can send you countless steps backward. The perfume of nature is a potent time machine. Plant something fragrant in your garden, capture your corner of the world in a corner of your mind.

mock orange bush philadelphus

Mock Orange a Memory Makes

Here’s a list of some of my favorite fragrant plants:

  • Philadelphus: spring blooming native Northwest shrub (lewesii), a.k.a. mock orange
  • Clethra alnifolia: late summer bloom, a.k.a. summersweet, nice billowy shrub, yellow fall color
  • Oriental Lily: late summer showstopper, easy to grow, gets better every year
  • Gardenia: one of the toughest plants to grow but “frostproof” is a promising variety for northern climes
  • Roses: the fragrance of legends (old garden roses and David Austin’s especially fragrant)  Abraham Darby, Madame Alfred Carriere, Golden Celebration, Evelyn, Sombriel,
  • Acidanthera: Abyssian lily, a tender corm producing gladiola-like leaves and heady delicate blossoms in late summer.
  • Honeysuckle: an old garden favorite that seems indestructible and in some places can be invasive depending on variety.
  • Lavender: bees love them, people too, need good drainage and good sun
  • Marigolds: out of favor for some, but for me a childhood favorite, they’re the smell of summer
  • Chinese Wisteria: The dreamiest vines in my garden, keep them low to prune hard for better blooming.  (Cooke’s Special is a real standout.)
  • Spearmint: a must for ice tea and its rakish cousin, the julep
  • Clematis armandii: wonderful evergreen vine that’s blooms in early spring in a blanket of white, seems almost tropical.
  • Violets: Viola Odorata, a very early, unassuming spring bloomer with one of my favorites perfumes


  1. Hi,
    Curious about Chinese Wisteria…Is that the plant at Soundfoods? The current Link above… took me to Sunset Mag. Any other help most appreciated.
    Found your site when looking for Honeyscuckle info…loving the fragrance right now.

  2. Thank you for the list! I’ll share one of my favorites as well.

    This past winter I got to experience the magic of the Azara tree at the arboretum in Seattle. It was like someone was baking with white chocolate in the forest, absolutely amazing scent. It’s one of the rare trees that blooms in the winter and uses it’s heady aroma to draw pollinators, also called “winter’s gift” for being one of the few nectar producing plants at that time.

    • Thanks Ashleigh, I look forward to doing a little research and seeing if I have a good spot for an Azara tree. You had me at the scent of baking with white chocolate. Thanks! Tom


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