Aromatherapy gardens are on the increase. Although aromatic plants for gardens are certainly not a new concept, interest in the growing, harvesting, and distilling of aromatic plants has seen a growth surge in the past couple of years. So, where to begin in choosing aromatic plants for your garden? Join me in my own journey into the growing of aromatic plants and herbs and you will see that there are many different fragrant plants to choose for a scented garden. Over the next few weeks, I will share some of my background in aromatic plant gardening, uses for these plants, and more.
Historical Use of Fragrant Plants in the Garden
Fragrant flowers and plants have a long history of use in the garden. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon are some of the most famous gardens of ancient times, although the ancient Egyptians and Romans also had gardens full of roses, fragrant herbs, and aromatic fruit trees too. Scented gardens spread throughout Europe and, although they fell out of favor during the 18th century and the Industrial Revolution in Great Britain, they are just as popular again today.
Fragrant climbers, such as honeysuckle and clematis, framed 16th and 17th century English arbors, together with hawthorn, to create a romantic and discreet meeting place for lovers; in Elizabethan times, both honeysuckle and clematis (particularly Clematis flammula) were very popular aromatic climbers found in many gardens. Arbor derives from the word herbe, meaning “a place where perfumed herbs or plants grew”; therefore, garden arbors traditionally supported the growth of fragrant climbers.
Benefits of Aromatic Plants
Fragrant plants stimulate one of the most powerful of the five senses, smell. For those who do not have the sense of sight, and the visual stimulation of a garden, scented gardens are even more powerful. However, fragrant plants do not just please the nose for pleasure; they have a purpose too.
In the world of botany, the aroma of a plant can attract or repel an insect or predator for survival purposes. Some plants attract pollinators, such as hummingbirds, bees and butterflies, for fertilization and growth. Other plants repel predators through scent. The chemical make-up of some plants are also deadly to predators who attempt to eat them. Many plants survive, in one way or another, through the aromas that they produce.
Uses of Aromatic Plants
Fragrant plants have uses too, in addition to floral displays in the garden. Lots of scented plants are used in herbal medicine, in culinary dishes and in the practice of aromatherapy. However, some scented plants are dangerous and toxic, so it is essential to be able to identify a plant and know what it can be safely used for.
Aromatic Climbers for the Garden
There are several fragrant climbing plants that can be used in the garden. These include honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum), clematis, roses and jasmine (Jasminum officinale). Fragrant climbers grow over arbors, fences and walls and have been popular for centuries in old European gardens. Today, it is possible to grow many scented climbers in gardens throughout the world.
Traditional Aromatic Plants for the Garden
Traditional fragrant plants for the garden have been grown in cottage gardens through England, Scotland and Europe for centuries too. Traditional fragrant cottage garden plants include sweet pea (Lathyrus odoratus), lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), stock, and roses. Cottage gardens were traditionally both fragrant and served a purpose; many medicinal and culinary plants were grown there.
Aromatic Herbs for the Garden
Scented herbs were also regular plants that appeared in a culinary and medicinal garden; these included peppermint (Mentha piperita), basil (Ocimum basilicum), rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), sage (Salvia officinalis), fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) and chamomile. Today, they add both fragrance and use to a garden too.
Learn More About Aromatic Plants with Sedona Aromatics
If you would like to learn more about using aromatic plants in aromatherapy, take a look at the Sedona Aromatics Certificate in Holistic Aromatherapy.
Lawless, Julia, 2001, The Aromatherapy Garden UK: Kyle Cathie Limited
Poedlech, Dieter, Herbs and Healing Plants of Britain and Europe UK: Collins Nature Guides
Author is a UK-certified aromatherapist, published author in aromatherapy, an approved education provider for the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA), an aromatherapy business owner, and Chief Editor for the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal.