Summer is here. No not the blazing sun and hot nights of last year but the soft warmth with cool breezes and clouds blowing by that we in the Pacific Northwest are used too. With the summer winds comes fragrance from the garden.

tracleospermum jasminoides

Sometimes the fragrance comes from known sources and sometimes it surprises you from the unknown. I have a flowering tracleospermum jasminoides blooming near my bedroom door to the patio. A hardy Jasmine it has a sheltered spot near a wall with mostly shade. Its evergreen leaves are soft, glossy and dark green all year long. The blooms start in early spring and get better and more fragrant with the warmth of summer. Nothing is better than falling asleep with the soft fragrance wrapped around you.

white gardenia
white gardenia bloom

Moving along the path by the front door, the fragrant, subtle, White Gardenia blooms. Breeding in the past several years has given us northerners a chance to experience the lovely gardenia scent in the garden. A gift from Monrovia at the garden show this past February it has bloomed prolifically through spotty summer showers and cool temperatures. As the summer has warmed so has the scent. Lovely evergreen leaves and creamy white flowers would earn a place in the garden even if it didn’t have an amazing scent.


Of course, summer isn’t summer without the beguiling scent of nicotiana. Once I planted it for a client who was trying hard to quit a long established nicotine habit. We laughingly joked that this was the only tobacco allowed on the property from now on. The scent increases at night with its white flowers glowing in the evening garden. Often included in ‘moon’ gardens they are amazing for their night scent. They are an easy to grow annual and come in different shapes and sizes. Not all are fragrant so be sure to get the scented version.

Lililum taliense
Lililum taliense

Lilies have a wonderful fragrance. Some are so overwhelming that you want to throw them out of the house. Lililum taliense from Dan Hinkley’s garden is tiny, soft yellow with purple dots and knock-your-socks-off fragrant. One tiny bloom in a bud vase fills up the bathroom with powerful lilyness (I think that is a word!). Placed next to a pathway they add so much with their structure, unusual in form and fragrance they can’t easily be passed by without a look, a smell and a stop.


I love tropicals and one plant I overwinter from year to year is the burgmansia. The trumpet shaped flowers bloom with such little provocation they seemed to be born to flower. The peach blooms hang down from often misshaped branches letting their mysterious scent waft on the wind.  Most parts are poisonous and breaking off a leaf or stem may cause an adverse reaction to the sap on your skin.  They grow into a large shrub when given adequate water so they can be placed far away from lots of people and still enjoyed for all aspect of flower and fragrance.

I’m away to wander about the garden again. I’m sure I’ve missed some flowering scents still. They show up in weird places on weird plants. Until next time…

Happy Gardening.  Happy Summer.