Even if you only have a tiny outdoor space available, you can create a scented flower garden. Plant scented shrubs and flowers in containers of different sizes and styles to create depth, then sit back and breathe in the summery scents.
If your patio hasn’t had much TLC over the winter, then the first thing to do is tidy it up! Sweep up dead leaves and soil and fix down any loose stones.
If your patio doesn’t get much sun over the winter, it may have gone a bit green and slimey! A quick and easy way to clean it up is with sodium hypochlorite, a type of strong bleach. It’s available from garden centres and agricultural merchants, and needs to be diluted as per the packet instructions. Just apply it from a watering can or spray, and the slime will melt away, there’s no need to scrub.
If you have pets, it’s best not to use hypochlorite as it can be irritating to paws, in which case your best option is very hot water, washing up liquid, a yard brush and lots of elbow grease!
Next, clean any existing containers and discard old soil, and invest in new containers if you need to. A mix of different heights, colours and sizes of pot allows you to create perspective and means each plant will get a fair share of sunlight.
Put a layer of stones or gravel at the bottom or each pot before adding soil, compost or a mixture of both – compost alone tends to dry out very quickly, so you’ll need to keep an eye on water levels.
If you choose carefully, you can ensure that plants come into flower at different times so you’ll have scent the whole summer long. If you tend to make most use of your outdoor space in the evening, then choose plants that release most of their fragrance at night to attract night-flying insects.
The best fragrant plants
- Lavender – everyone’s favourite, this is easy to grow and likes a nice, sunny position where it won’t get too damp. Flowers tend to be at their peak between June and August, but may go on until September in a sunny spot.
- Evening primrose – this is a night-fragrance plant, ideal for borders and small containers, with attractive, bright yellow flowers.
- Jasmine – possibly one of the most fragrant garden plants. Jasminum officinale has star-shaped white flowers from around July until September or October. Jasmine is a climbing plant and will need some support from a trellis or by being positioned against a wall.
- Herbs – herbs such as rosemary and thyme are ideal for containers. They’re very easy to grow, have a lovely Mediterranean scent and you can cook with them as well!
- Lilies – lilies are at their best from the end of May to July, so are one of the earliest plants to scent your garden. Try lilium longiflorum, which has long, trumpet-shaped flowers.
- Sweet peas – finally, don’t overlook the humble sweet pea. If you’re growing them in a container, you’ll need a proper support for them to climb up such as a purpose-built trellis. Alternatively, make your own by pushing four long bamboo canes into the outer edges of the pot and tying them together at the top to form a pyramid shape. Sweet peas flower from around June to September, are high scented and make great cut flowers.