Spring fragrance to beat the winter blues

Spring fragrance to beat the winter blues

Belarina_double_primroseIt’s that time of year again. We want it to be spring but really it’s still winter. We had a great two weeks of sunny, mild weather that whet our appetite for spring. If you are a gardener, you were dying to get outside and do something, anything that involved plants. Now we hear we might have snow on the valley floor on Thursday. All of the avid gardeners are crying out, “Enough already, let it be spring!”

When I am feeling like spring will never arrive, I find solace in my garden and all the flowers that are blooming, most

especially the fragrant ones. Considering that I am very sensitive to cologne and scents in cleaning products, it is amazing that I have so many fragrant plants in my yard. Somehow outdoors, the fragrance is not overwhelming, or perhaps it is that natural plant fragrances don’t bother me as much. However, I am careful not to bring especially potent flowers, such as paperwhites, into my house. My stroll through my yard and the nursery in the past few days has intoxicated my senses and relieved the doldrums. My sweet violets are filling their little spot in the yard with their sweet perfume on sunny days. By my front door, my favorite yellow Oceana primroses and a new Belarina Double primrose exude a delightful scent. There is a Sarcococca humilis, or sweet box, whose fragrance carries on the breeze. The rosemary, lavender and thyme in

Witch hazel (Hamamelis)

Witch hazel (Hamamelis)

my herb garden leave a lingering, fresh aroma on my hands when I touch them. At the nursery I enjoy sniffing the Witch hazel (Hamamelis), the Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’ and carlesii, and the Daphne odora. We just received blooming Dianthus. Those in my yard aren’t in flower yet, so it is hard for me to resist their spicy carnation scent. It is truly amazing the bounty of fragrant plants available in February.

And there are more fragrant beauties on the way. Very soon the hyacinths will be in bloom. They are quite strong, but I adore them, especially outside. There will be fragrant daffodils and Narcissus to follow. There are even some Tulips that have a subtle scent. Right on their heels arrive Stock, bluebells, and wallflower. Then there will be Magnolias, Lilacs and Wisteria. The list goes on and on. Who can feel down when there is such sweet bliss at hand?

A few things to consider when adding fragrant plants to your garden. Place the early bloomers close to the house, in an area that you pass by daily. If you regularly traipse through the yard, then an outer location might still work for you. Reflected heat intensifies the odor. Did you ever wonder why Sweet violets appear not to be fragrant on rainy, cold days? I can’t give you the science behind it, but sun and warmth do bring out better scent. It is delightful to catch the slightest scent on the wind, but for a longer, deeper inhalation consider planting the fragrant plant in an enclosed or partially enclosed area. Finally, understand that the reason plants have fragrant flowers is to attract insects, including bees, to spread their pollen. On a recent sunny day in mid-February, the bees were very active. Just be aware that one goes with the other. If you are allergic or that bothers you, you can add those wonderful fragrances to your life through scented oils, soap, bath salts and cut flowers.

Here is a list of late winter and spring fragrant plants:


Corylopsis pauciflora-Winter Hazel

Daphne odora

Edgeworthia chrysantha

Elaeagnus ebbingei

Hamamelis mollis-Witch Hazel

Pieris japonica-Lily of the Valley Shrub

Sarcococca humilis, ruscifolia or confusa-Himalyan Sweet Box

Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’, carlesii, and carlecephalum

Later spring shrubs:

Philadelphus-Mock Orange

Syringa vulgaris-Lilac


Magnolia stellata-Star Magnolia


Styrax obassia-Fragrant Snowbell


Dwarf Iris


Daffodils and narcissus

Baby Moon


Cheerfulness and Yellow Cheerfulness

Pheasant Eye and Actaea

Carlton and others


Apricot Beauty

Coleur Cardinal

Princess Irene

Angelique and others


Lily of the Valley-Convallaria



Sweet Violets-Viola odorata

Primula veris-Cowslip

Primula ‘Belarina series’-double primrose






Sweet Woodruff


Akebia quinata-Chocolate vine

Clematis armandii, C. montana rubens ‘Elizabeth’ and ‘Tetrarose’

Jasminum polyanthum



Primroses-mainly yellow flowered



About Brenda Powell

I'm one of the owners of a family-owned retail nursery. I have a degree in horticulture from Oregon State University. I love to garden and read. My technically savvy but horticulturally challenged husband, Mitch, spends most of his time as slave labor in the garden. Thank goodness he adores me! My goal in this blog is to share my enjoyment of gardening, my love of nature, and my addiction to books. Did I mention I like to cook, too?
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s