Aromatic Herbal Flowers for the Garden

Sunflower in a bronze hue from the garden. Photo Copyright Sharon Falsetto.
Sunflower in a bronze hue from the garden. Photo Copyright Sharon Falsetto

An introduction to the aromatic herbal flowers for the garden available to the aromatherapist and gardener. By Sharon Falsetto.

In case you haven’t heard, aromatic flowers are making a comeback in the garden. And not just for medicinal purposes. I’ve only been gardening for a few short years, but I’m beginning to notice an increased trend in the slow flower movement. Each year there seems to be more varieties of aromatic blooms available for the aromatic gardener.

Herbalists have traditionally grown their own plants for herbal preparations. But as an aromatherapist, I was never taught to do this. It intrigued me. Here we are learning all about these amazing oils and waters. Yet we never go directly to the source and integrate ourselves fully into the process of plant to bottle – or even from seed to plant.

So, as I began to develop my own garden, I started seeking out not just those aromatic plants with medicinal properties, but aromatic plants that existed simply for their beauty, for their aroma. After all, isn’t that simply healing in itself?

Here are a few of my favorites!

Herbal Flowers for the Garden

Although herbal plants such as basil, oregano, and yarrow are healing medicinally, we are now starting to see them in flower bouquets. Imagine receiving an aromatic bouquet of healing plants!

I’ve come across varieties of basil with aromas such as cinnamon, lemon, clove, licorice and mint! And it’s not just the aroma of these plants and flowers which makes them special. Some are works of art in themselves. Purple-streaked leaves, some almost black leaves, and chocolate and cream-colored flowers. Not your average herb-in-a-pot!

Five Senses Aromatic Profile™
Abridged Version: Full version was available by the Botanical Aromatherapy™ Subscription sent to subscribers. Original version is part of a series available in the Secrets from the Aromatic Garden Retreat workbook by Sharon Falsetto.
Botanical Name: Ocimum basilicum.
Botanical Family: Lamiaceae.
Aromatic Extract: Essential oil, CO2 extract. Essential Oil: Steam distilled from the leaves. CO2 Extract: From the leaves.
Traditional Plant Description: An annual herb with dark green, ovate leaves; a square stem; pink white flowers. Grows up to two feet in height. Very aromatic when crushed.

Basil from the Garden. Photo Copyright Sharon Falsetto
Basil from the Garden. Photo Copyright Sharon Falsetto

Five Senses Aromatics
Smell: A surprisingly spicy and balsamic aroma and not the expected “green” aroma of herbs. Other varieties offer aromas of lemon, mint, cinnamon and clove!
Hear: Don’t be fooled by the simple packaging! A multi-tasker.
Sight: Green and luscious! Although some varieties go farther with detail – purple and almost-black streaked leaves.
Touch: Smooth, calming.
Taste: Used in many culinary dishes.  

Scented Flowers for the Old-fashioned Garden

I love that some of the old-fashioned flowers are once again taking center-stage. Varieties such as stock, Dianthus (carnation), phlox, sweet pea, and flowering tobacco are not only visually appealing, but scentually appealing as well. Aromas like clove, jasmine, lilac, melon, and spice will fill your summer garden. Plant some of these beauties and you’ll get a sea of colors from pastel pink to deep maroon, too.

Of course, some of the non-scented flowers which are used in aromatherapy and herbal practice, can also add a splash of color to the garden. Cornflowers (Bachelor buttons), Queen Anne’s Lace, nasturtium, calendula, bee balm, and sunflower all add color to a healing garden.

I haven’t gone into much detail about the individual varieties I mention here, as I want you to take this journey with me as I look at each plant in more detail over the following year. This will include a closer look at their botanical names, families, botanical features and, of course, an aromatic profile! To stay up-to-date with plant profiles, essential oils, new blend recipes and more, make sure that you subscribe to our FREE Botanical Aromatherapy™ subscription. And check out our Instagram feed for visual inspiration!

Which aromatic flowers will you be growing in your garden this year?

About the Author:

The author of this article has a combined 24-year history in the health care and aromatherapy industry. She is UK-certified aromatherapist and a NAHA Certified Professional Aromatherapist®. She is both a published author and editor in aromatherapy, a consultant, custom blend formulator and herbal studies student. She is the author of Authentic Aromatherapy and the current chief editor of the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal. She has taken the online Master Gardener short course series with the University of Oregon. Sharon works from her garden studio in Sedona, Arizona, where she gardens and distills plants from her own aromatic gardens, surrounded by natural fauna and flora on an original pioneer homestead property.

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