An Aroma Garden

Scented Spaces, Sacred Places

May 12, 2009
John Stuart Leslie

Gardens with fragrance add a multi dimensional aspect to the enjoyment of the yard. It may be a single Jasmine or an entire Rose garden. The scent may be sweet, musky, fragrant or spicy. It may be pungent and overpowering, yet alluring.

flowers provide multi-sensory value


When I catch the whiff of a scented flower or foliage, I sometimes feel that the plant is communicating with me. Otherwise, it’s up to me to notice it. The picking up on a scent is often by accident. I usually don’t go out into the garden to smell the roses or the jasmine unless I know they are blooming.


I especially notice the scents of my herbs and plants when I am weeding or messing around at close quarters. At these times, they seem almost drenched in aroma. My senses are heightened, as if to be warned that too much fragrance can be overwhelming. Ever had that feeling?



We pick up cues and information from a plant’s fragrance. We notice the peak of its bloom and whether the color of the flower matches the intensity of its fragrance. The temperature of our surroundings has a direct effect on the aromatic oils produced by the scented qualities of the plants.



The aroma reminds us how hot it is and perhaps the time of day. We are taken to distant memories as the scents remind us of our first experiences with the aroma and events associated with the memories.


Many plants and flowers provide a multitude of design options to create a scented garden. Here are a few:




Bay Laurel


Citrus (Orange, Lemon)



Monk’s Pepper


Sweet basil

Holy Basil


Bee balm
Clove pink

Lily-of the-valley




daisy My Sacred Garden

It should be noted that what produces the scent is important to know in selecting various plants for the garden and one should not just fill up a garden with as many scented plants as possible.


Among the trees mentioned, the scent from the pines and eucalyptus come from their leaves and are not overpowering unless there is a large grouping or the environmental conditions are just right. On the other hand, the Orange tree is fragrant only during its blossoming period and is powerful enough to smell without even being nearby.


Several factors must therefore be examined:


·    Appropriateness in its form, i.e. tree, shrub, ground cover, accent, container or pots.


·    Type of fragrances of similar character may be grouped, i.e. aromatics vs. sweet;


·    Size and form of the plants should drive the placement rather than the actual scents;


·    Time of year the fragrance is at peak. Offset down times with something else that will fill in;


·    Balance the use of evergreens, perennials, annuals so that you don’t have to re-plant your garden every season.


Accentuate the aroma garden with other elements that trigger your other senses. Use flowering shrubs and annuals to create color combinations that brighten the garden and balance your primary scented plants or vice versa.


Edible garden elements will bring a sense of taste and can be accomplished by using fruit trees, berries, nuts, and certainly all vegetables and cooking herbs.


Rose in a sacred garden

Sound can be introduced in windy areas by selecting certain trees and tall shrubs that make sound in the wind, the rustling of their leaves or branches.


Without wind or deciduous trees, water fountains and wind chimes can be used.


So what makes this garden sacred? You do. Select a particular plant that has a certain fragrance or scent that has special meaning to you.


Pick a time when this plant is flowering or is otherwise available to pick a flower or leaf, take it to your designated sitting area and go back in time to when you first remember smelling that fragrance. How old were you? Where were you? What happened then? You will most likely remember a pleasant memory, one that brings you joy. What’s that overly used cliche we always hear?.... Stop and smell the roses?

Related Article: Herbs From The Garden 

John Stuart Leslie, Spiritual Garden Designer, Creator of My Sacred Garden websiteJohn Stuart Leslie is creator and founder of My Sacred Garden. A website that blends the mind, body & spiritual lifestyle of the conscious consumer with the pursuit of gardens, gardening, design and art. He holds a Master's degree in Landscape Architecture and has been a landscape designer and contractor since 1982.

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