Clumber Gardener: Top choices for a summer of scents

Chris Margrave, head gardener at Clumber Park
Chris Margrave, head gardener at Clumber Park

Scent adds another dimension to a garden, and for many, is an essential ingredient in any planting scheme.

Over the summer there is a massive choice of plants with fragrant flowers which can be added to sunny or shady borders or to containers.

Flowers which produce their most powerful perfumes in the evening are amongst my favourites and here is my top 10.

1. Shrub Roses. The choice in this group is overwhelming but the rugosa roses number some excellent fragrant repeat flowering varieties.

Rosa rugosa has mauve flowers, Alba has white and both flower all summer long with a rich and sweet scent.

2. Mock Orange. Otherwise known as Philadelphus, these shrubs produce white flowers in June and July, some with purple markings.

They grow best in a sunny spot and are best pruned after flowering.

3. Honeysuckle. These are renowned for their evening scents and the aptly named Heaven Scent is a climber that can be trained up a trellis and, with support, fence or wall.

4. Pinks. Modern pinks like the pale pink Dianthus Doris are repeat flowering, so good for front of borders or cut flowers.

They need a free-draining soil and are happiest in a slightly alkaline soil.

5. Lilies. The oriental hybrids are best for scent and Stargazer is popular and easy to grow while the Regal Lily Lilium regale emits a heady, almost intoxicating scent in July.

6. Chocolate Cosmos, This is a half-hardy perennial for the front of a sunny border or a container in full sun with a powerful scent of chocolate.

They can also be lifted and over-wintered in a frost free greenhouse.

7. Sweet Pea. Not all sweet peas are strongly scented but the old fashioned or grandiflora varieties can be relied on for perfume.

8. Night Scented Stock. This is a hardy annual, best described as nose-catching, rather than eye-catching and produces gorgeous scents in the evening.

9. Mignonette. Reseda odorata, another hardy annual, for planting at the front of a border.

Again, the flowers are not very showy, but the fragrance is superb, even more so of an evening.

10. Pelargonium. The scented leaved pelargoniums come in green and variegated forms.

A crowd pleaser in the conservatory in our walled kitchen garden at Clumber is Pink Capitatum which has a citrus scent when gently rubbed.

We are now into high summer and herbaceous perennials, summer bedding, containers and hanging baskets are looking good.

Visit other gardens to see new varieties and get ideas about planting schemes for your own garden.

Continue tying in the developing stems of climbers such as roses, clematis and honeysuckles.

Sweet peas are in full flower and dahlias are starting to flower.

As soon as the blooms fade, cut them off as this will encourage the plant to produce more flowers.

Similarly, remove the faded blooms from plants in containers and hanging baskets. Keep these well watered in hot, dry, sunny weather.

Plants will also benefit from a weekly feed with a fertiliser high in potassium and a tomato fertiliser is ideal.

Continue sowing quick maturing salad crops such as loose leaf lettuce and rocket.

Chinese cabbage can be sown towards the end of the month.

To avoid plants going to seed, sow directly into the soil.