Many favorite memories are triggered by our sense of smell, so it's no wonder that garden flowers are the source of many pleasant recollections. Remember the sweet scent of grandmother's old-fashioned pale pink roses that seemed to grow untamed in the back yard? Do you recall the exotic white blossoms of a magnolia tree in the heat of summer? How about the intoxicating aroma of tropical blooms that seemed to surround you on a trip to the islands?
Flowers are admired for their beauty, exquisite shapes and seemingly unending spectrum of colors, but some varieties are most loved and respected for their amazing scents. Some gardeners even plan their gardens to provide year-round sensory delights.
From the delicate scent of lily-of-the-valley to the heady aroma of wisteria and the soothing smell of jasmine, read on to learn more about 10 of the best smelling flowers.
One - Frangipani
Known to tourists as the Hawaiian lei flower, frangipani(Plumeria rubra) is native to warm tropical areas of the Pacific Islands, Caribbean, South America and Mexico. These beautiful flowers -- which grow in shades of pink, red, yellow and white -- appear to be kissed with a touch of gold at the center. Frangipani has a distinctly tropical scent that grows more intense in the evenings, and the blossoms make a lovely addition to a dramatic bouquet.
Frangipani flower plants can grow to be large shrubs or small trees, with long leathery, fleshy leaves near the tips of the branches. Their flowers contain a poisonous, milky sap that can irritate the skin. In addition, the tree's wood can be used to make musical instruments, tableware, and furniture
Two - Sweet Alyssum
The scent of sweet alyssum (lobularia maritma) is as pretty as its name. Fortunately, it's also one of the easiest annuals to grow. Seeds can be sown uncovered directly in the ground as soon as it thaws or in pots, and the plants will bloom from early spring to fall in full sun to part shade.
Alyssum is a mat-forming plant with dense clusters of tiny, sweet-smelling flowers. With little effort and expense, this plant will give you the most fragrance in your garden for a minimum investment; although it's low to the ground, the intense scent floats through the air. It also grows easily from inexpensive seed and reseeds itself
Three - Chocolate Cosmos
Chocolate lovers, here's a flower for you! Chocolate cosmos(cosmos astrosanguineum) are known for their unique reddish brown flowers that have a light vanilla fragrance, like many chocolate candies. Even though the smell is intriguing, don't be tempted to taste the poisonous blossom.
Native to Mexico, chocolate cosmos are an herbaceous perennial in warmer climates, and an annual in colder climates. They grow from 1 to 3 feet tall(30 to 91 centimeters), and enjoy full sun to partial shade. Gardeners recommend clustering six to eight plants together to enjoy the full effect of the fragrance, which becomes stronger as summer days heat up
Four - Wisteria
In the southern U.S., it's a sure sign of spring when the sweet scent of wisteria (wisteria futescens) wafts through the air. Wisteria's huge flowers resemble grape-like clusters, and in some varieties, the clusters can grow up to 3 feet (91.4 centimeters) in length. The purple-or-white hued petals of the wisteria will drop within a few days, so it's best to pause, relax under the lovely shade and enjoy this beauty while you can.
Gardeners love its delicate perfume in the spring, but the rest of year, this vigorous vine seems to have a mind of its own. Wisteria loves to climb and wander, adding privacy and shade to pergolas or arbors. It can also be trained on a trellis, or grown horizontally on the ground.
Five - Sweet Peas
Known for their intensely fragrant flowers, sweet peas(lathyrus) have been cultivated for more than 300 years. Their flowers appear in many different shades from red and pink to yellow to white, plus combinations of colors. A stem bears from one to seven flowers, each about two inches (51 millimeters) wide.
Sweet peas can grow to be 4 to 6 feet (1.2 to 1.8 meters) tall, although some bush varieties aren't quite as tall. If your area usually has a mild winter, sweet peas can be planted in the fall; otherwise plant them in early spring. You'll be able to enjoy the flowers from spring through summer, although they don't really care for intense summer heat.
A gardener's tip: Some varieties aren't fragrant at all, so be sure to read the description of the type you're purchasing.
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