Many people seek out a quiet place of solitude in the garden for contemplation and to rest from the day. The sights and sounds of the garden heal both in auditory and visual ways but there is one sense that is stimulated more quickly than any others. Fragrance is one of the greatest healers in the garden and is simple to add to your garden or yard space, no matter how big or small it is.
The Effect of Scent
Smell is the only sense that has a direct link to the brain; electro-chemical messages convert the perceived aroma into subsequent effects through the release of neuro-chemicals. Inhalation of a scent is the quickest way to treat emotional problems, such as stress and depression (source: Aromatherapy for Health Professionals, Shirley Price, Len Price).
How Plants Release Scent
Fragrant plants are the natural source of many essential oils that are used in aromatherapy. Essential oils are volatile which means that they evaporate quickly on contact with the air; that is why that the aroma of some fragrant plants seem to pass fleetingly. It also means that essential oils evaporate at or above room temperature; you may notice that on a warm, summer day the fragrance of plants is more readily released than on a cold, winter’s day.
Fragrant Herbs for the Garden
There are a wide variety of scented herbs to choose for the garden; many herbs have culinary purposes too. Some of the most popular fragrant herbs to choose for a garden are:
- rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
- lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
- peppermint (Mentha piperita)
- chamomile (various species)
- sage (various species)
- hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis).
(source: The Aromatherapy Garden, Julia Lawless)
Fragrant Climbers: Honeysuckle
There are several fragrant climbing plants that you can choose for a scented garden but one of my favorites is an all time classic – honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum). Honeysuckle was a popular European cottage garden plant but is now found in gardens throughout the United States. The common honeysuckle variety can grow up to 20 feet in length/height and has pink-yellow flowers; however there are many of species available too. Honeysuckle has a rich, sweet scent.
Popular Fragrant Plants: Rose
Rose is a timeless classic and has been popular in scented gardens for centuries. However, there are many varieties of rose species, cultivars and hybrids and not all types of roses are fragrant. Some of the classic rose species that do have a high scent include Damask rose (Rosa damascena) and cabbage rose (Rosa centifolia); both types are used to extract rose essential oil from.
Alternative Lawns: Thyme
Today we are familiar with the suburban sight of freshly manicured lawns; however this was not always the case. In the seventeenth century, lawns were not made from grass; they consisted of fragrant herbs. Chamomile and thyme were two of the most popular herbs used to plant a lawn or pathway. A walk upon a thyme or chamomile lawn will not only release fragrance into the air but will encourage the plants to grow faster too! (source: The Aromatherapy Garden, Julia Lawless) Consult with your local garden center for the most suitable varieties for your area.