Plants evolved fragrant flowers to attract insects, and scented leaves to deter predation.  Or rather, having evolved these traits, the plants survive and reproduce.  At any rate, for us humans, both make life more pleasant.

Modern hybrids usually aim for flashy appearance, big flowers, rich colors, and leave fragrance and scent behind.  In some cases, such as David Austin roses, fragrance is intentionally kept and encouraged.  I have a few of those - the fragrance from  few flowers fills the room.

Some of the same plants used for dry tolerance have scented leaves and stems.  These are also listed as deer-resistant.  In my own yard, they are also chicken-resistant.  My hens love pea, bean, and strawberry leaves, but don't touch the strongly scented leaves.


I like letting some of these grow in the limited grassy areas.  Mint smells great when mowed.  So does lemon balm.


Scented leaves make weeding and other garden tasks more interesting.  One precaution, a couple of them are invasive - Lemon Balm is highly invasive in my yard.  So is Peppermint and Spearmint.  I am planting some of these in the fence-row, hoping to deter deer (a little), and around some trees in my mini-orchard to attract beneficial insects.  I don't know if they will inhibit mole tunneling - an issue for my freshly planted fruit trees - or if the moles will like the extra flavoring.

Lemon Balm

Scented leaf plants that I grow:  Lavender, Rosemary, Monarda, scented-leaf geraniums, regular geraniums (I like the smell of the leaves), sage, oregano, marjoram, and the oniony plants like chives, garlic chives (very pretty white flowers), and the mentioned, invasive, Lemon Balm, and all mints.  Many of these are bee-attractants, so if you want to support healthy honey bees, they are a good choice too.


Mints, oregano, rosemary are best started from vegetative starts - the leaf scents can be more variable in seed started versions.  They are easy to grow from cuttings.  I have mints from cuttings and discards, and rosemary and geraniums from cuttings - very easy.  The chives and garlic chives grow easily from seeds - I plan to collect seeds from these this year.


As I age, I appreciate the smells from these plants more.  Even tomato plants - the smell takes me back to the good things about a midwestern garden.


I didn't comment here much about fragrant flowers - these engage the senses more fully too.  Currently I have oriental lilies blooming, very strong scent.  During the spring, apple flowers are nice - not strong, but you know they are there.  Some varieties of iris are lushly fragranced, but some have none at all.  Then there are the roses.  I watch for comments about fragrance in catalog descriptions, or check nursery plants, and that is part of the decision to choose a particular variety.

(The illustrations are old botanical drawings -  copyrights long expired.  They give a sense of history and discovery, and sometimes show detailsnot seen in modern pics).

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Replies to This Discussion

Wonderful commentary and botanical drawings! A stroll through your garden, with all its varieties, colors, tastes and aromas, must be like strolling through my idea of heaven!  Ambrosia for all the senses. 

I remember as a youngster, being fascinated looking at books with plant drawings.

And I agree with Joan about your garden.  Heaven indeed.

Thanks for your compliments!  It makes it worth while.  Love to share my love of gardening and nature.  

My garden is actually a mess.  A highly diverse, experimental, somewhat productive mess.  I keep wondering if a neighbor will complain.  It's why I wanted more room to spread out.  I've started moving some move-able plants to the new garden already, but it will take time, and I am keeping the old as well.  Moving established shrubs and perennials, and some of the smaller adolescent fruit trees is a big project, but keeps me out of trouble and gives the new area an more established feel at the outset.

Walking around, I often pull off leaves and shoots and smell them.  Rosemary is my favorite, but they are all enjoyable.  Pine shoots are sticky, but have a great aroma too. 

I think this year I'll move the geranium containers into the garage and let the dry out for the winter.  That usually gets them through and they start out much bigger in the Spring, compared to the store-bought.  Another option is taking cuttings for the windowsill.  Smaller, but I get to smell the leaves.

One person's mess is another's paradise. The trick is to make a garden a reflection of what is comforting and pleasant to you. I would love to stroll through your garden, and I would like if you could stroll through mine, not to compare or contrast, but to share information and ideas. 

Your multiple ideas just glimmer with life and living things, an appreciation of life in all it's glory. 

Almost anywhere there're lots of plants growing is paradise to me.  Plus, I usually prefer a variety and a jumble.  Large areas of one kind and color of flower is mostly unattractive to me.  I prefer lots of kinds and colors all mixed together.

It's definitely a jumble! It's my Eden too.  Gives me peace of mind.  Puttering meditation.


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