It’s been proven that scent is closely linked to memory. We’ve all had the delightful experience of catching a whiff that brought us back to our childhoods. I’ve been thinking of some of the scent-based memories I have, and I realized most of them are triggered by the garden. Undoubtedly my favourite smell of all time is soil in the spring, which always reminds me of my dad, but I’m also drawn time-and-time-again to fragrant shrubs, as well. I mean, there’s truly nothing like the smell of lilacs in spring.
Naturally, these memories don’t happen in a vacuum. Someone has to plant these fragrant shrubs and care for them before they can settle into your happy-memory bank. If you’re that gardener, and you’re inclined to infuse some scent into your garden, these are some of the best fragrant shrubs you can grow in the Guelph area.
If you’ve got a sweet tooth and a steady supply of chocolate in the cupboard, Chocolate Vine (Akebia) is one plant you won’t want to be without. While some may say it gets its name from the deep purple-brown flowers that appear in spring, I believe it really comes from the undeniable sugary sweet chocolate fragrance you can enjoy both in spring and in fall.
This slow-growing Asian tree almost looks like something from a painting, with leaves that emerge pink in spring, fade to blue-green in summer, and transform to a sunny yellow in fall. The best thing about them, though, is their fragrance. Not only do they have incredible pink leaves that look truly exotic here in Guelph in spring, but when they fade to yellow in fall, their drying leaves emit an oh-so-delicious bubblegum scent that is simply irresistible!
Katsura Image Via Portland Tree Tour
Viburnum Snowball Bush
After a long winter, quite often the last thing we want on our minds is more snow. However, when you’ve got adorable clusters of white blooms with a supremely spicy scent, you won’t mind that it looks like you’ve got snowballs growing in your backyard. Grow them anywhere from dappled shade to full sun to enjoy their signature smell all season long.
This fragrant shrub is a real heartbreaker in the early summer. Through the rest of the growing season, Mockorand is an understated beauty with serrated, oval-shaped green foliage and a nice compact mounding habit. Then, when she blooms, she BLOOMS. The shrub becomes absolutely covered in stunning crisp-white double flowers with the fragrance of — you guessed it! — fresh citrus.
When I think of the scent of spring in Guelph, lilac instantly comes to mind. If you, like me, are also a big fan of that signature floral perfume, this is one plant you won’t want to be without. The bloom shape, colour, and fragrance are all vibrant and if you’re looking to grow fragrance, you might as well go for the Cadillac (or Cadi-lilac) of fragrant blooms.
Dianthus may also be known as “Pinks”, but can be found in a variety of shades, from white to purple. They are hardy, easy-to-care-for, and look perfectly at home in any English-style country garden. Depending on their variety, they can range in fragrance from sweet and subtle to strong and spicy, so be sure to get a good whiff to know which ones you may be taking home!
As someone who appreciates a great landscape, it’s always a good thing when the space smells as lovely as it looks. These fragrant shrubs are all so distinctly beautiful in both scent and appearance, they’ll quickly become your favourite features of your property. If you’re in the Guelph area, you can come and check them out in person at Royal City Nursery.