The Scented Summer Garden

Flower garden with roses

Scent as well as colour is one of the essential elements of a summer garden. Its mysterious power affects mood and brings back memories as fragrance wafts, sometimes unexpectedly, catching us delightfully by surprise and reminding us of happy days.

honeysuckle bush

Scents and Memories

A welcome garland of honeysuckle fragrance wafts over us as we pass to the front door, to be met with a heady mix of scents in this south facing sunny yard. As we return from holiday we are in for a treat for our olfactory senses here.

a bronze fennel plant

Another welcoming ‘guard-of honour’ is this huge Bronze Fennel plant standing outside our garage door. After a shower of rain it is beautifully decorated by silver rain drops. Just next to the honeysuckle a rosemary bush waits, as if inviting us to pass our hands through its foliage, picking up its fragrant oil on our hands.

We meet a blaze of colour and breathe in a bouquet of heavenly perfume. Roses, honeysuckle, old-fashioned cottage garden flowers giving heady aromas with happy memories of warm summer garden days.

There is a rich, irresistible fragrance from these two essential stalwarts of an English cottage garden. The familiar scent of old fashioned Sweet William with Garden Pinks (Dianthus), including that traditional favourite white and highly aromatic Mrs Sinkins. Talk about ‘memories of Granny’s garden’ and all that! Delightful!

Pink shru

Roses – the English garden’s glory!

Dominating the scene at the moment is this glorious pink bush rose. Sadly I’ve forgotten its name. No need to sink your nose into this one. Its delicious scent fills this space outside our front door.  Opposite is Golden Showers which had its peak a few weeks ago. The ever reliable red Penstemon ‘Garnet’ generously plays second fiddle to the rose here.

‘Some writers would call it nostalgically scented, meaning everything that burying one’s nose into the heart of a rose meant in one’s childhood, or in one’s adolescence when one first discovered poetry, or the first time one fell in love.’

Vita Sackville-West writing of some of her favourite roses.

To me nothing is more disappointing than a typical rose from a florist shop. Stiff, ungraceful and worst of all providing not even the slightest whiff of fragrance. A rose without scent is unthinkable, just like those awful plastic flowers!

scented summer flower garden

And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

From Keats’ ‘Autumn’

Above, the front flower meadow includes grasses, poppies, campanula, achillea, cornflower, lychnis and pinks and much more. Given a sunny day and this front garden becomes filled with the buzz of satisfied insects.  But this is only the start, there’s more to come as summer progresses.

Garden meadow

The Back Garden

Keen to see how the back garden has developed while we were away, we brush past the enlarging leaves of the Indian Bean (Catalpa) with graceful Cornus alternifolius at its feet. Ahead we are met by the burgeoning, lush new growth of the no-mow meadow full of oxeye daisies, bird’s foot trefoil and hawkbit. A mown path invites and leads us to explore further.

A delightful, slightly out of control mound covers the gazebo with Vitis vinifera, white rose Climbing Iceberg and purple Clematis Etoile Violette, intertwined with cream/primrose rose Mermaid. The latter is a very thorny beauty which is a brute to prune, but prune it we must! Here we gladly borrow our neighbour’s trees behind as a background.

sweet peas in flower

  No scented cottage garden is complete without some sweet peas providing daily scented bunches for indoors or for giving away. There will be more scent this evening too from Evening Primrose, Nicotianas and Night-scented Stocks:

And from the thyme upon the height, 
And from the elder-blossom white 
And pale dog-roses in the hedge, 
And from the mint-plant in the sedge, 
In puffs of balm the night-air blows 
The perfume which the day forgoes.’ 

From ‘Baccanalia‘ by Matthew Arnold
flower border beside path

Where better to be than back in one’s own paradise garden enjoying close-up the artistic hand of our generous Creator. Plants full of grace and beauty with leaves of different shapes and textures in shades of green and grey, petals, scents and colours in abundance all reflect his glory. The garden sings his praises and so do I.

Thank you for your visit. I hope it has brought back some happy garden memories.

10 thoughts on “The Scented Summer Garden

  1. You have such a beautiful garden, Richard! The scents and colours must be overpowering on a sunny afternoon. I love the way you have added quotes from the poets to your post. Thank you.


    1. The many scented flowers add so much to a garden. We all love them and so do the bees and other insects! Quotes, like the scent of flowers add so much extra to the enjoyment of reading. Thank you, Clare.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You have such a wonderful garden. Something I aspire to but could never achieve unfortunately as I don’t really have the patience for gardening. We have a very unkempt and very wild garden which is my saving Grace. Not beautiful though. Keep posting pictures of yours for all to enjoy. Thank you.


    1. Sorry for the rather rambling reply. What I meant to say was that the garden though wild and unkempt is a haven for wildlife!


    2. Thank you, Clive. I will. Enjoy your own garden wildness. I know you often have some interesting bird visitors. I too, have some wild areas here which I am glad to encourage – including a newly created wildlife pond.


    1. Thank you, Andrea. We have such a huge range of flowering plants available today. I specially love the cheap and cheerful annuals with their bright colours and long flowering season. But we could do with much more sun. Here in the South we’ve had an unusually wet June!


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