Line your garden paths with scent - all year round!

How lovely it is to walk through the garden after work on a summer  evening and absorb the fragrance of flowers as you pass them. With a bit of planning, you can enjoy scent on every journey through your garden
, even if it's just a quick trip to gather some herbs for cooking or taking kitchen waste to the compost heap. And you don't have to wait for summer either. By choosing the right plants and putting them in the right places, you can enjoy natural perfume as you walk through your garden whatever the time of year.

What are your favourite scented plants for the summer garden? I would love to know which plants you've positioned in your garden so that you can smell them just by walking past. Here are my suggestions for making the most of scent in your garden...

Place scented plants just outside doors

Scented plants Brugmansia Green Fingered Blog
Let's start with your first step out into the garden. What can you smell? What would you like to smell? Choose your favourite scented plant and get it as close to the door as possible. Provided the conditions there will suit it, this is a great way to start. If you are stepping out onto a patio you might need something in a pot if there's nowhere to plant in the ground close to the door. In my case, the area just outside is patio so I have Dianthus and Brugmansia in pots close to the door during summer, along with my absolute favourite, Night Scented Phlox.

Line paths with scent

Lavender lined path at Avebury Manor Wiltshire Green Fingered Blog
Entrance to Avebury Manor, Wiltshire
Wherever you have a path, consider what you can plant on either side that carries fragrance. Detecting a fragrance as you walk along adds an extra dimension to the way you experience your garden. This picture was taken at Avebury Manor in Wiltshire. It shows an example of a formal style of lining a path. The path is dead straight, and has lavender all the way along both sides.
The picture at the top of this post is from my garden, and shows the informal equivalent. The path is gravel, winds this way and that, and along one side has several lavenders and a couple of rosemary bushes. They are staggered and spread out rather than in a line, giving a slightly more natural appearance, but provide the same opportunity to brush past or pick up the scent from their essential oils as you walk along.

Put scented plants on corners

White Regal Lily in pot on the corner Green Fingered Blog
White Lilium Regale in a pot on the corner
 Wherever there is a corner where you change direction, you are likely to slow down ever so slightly, even for a moment. Any intersection of two pathways will be passed through twice as often as a single pathway. This makes corners and intersections a great place to put something lovely and smelly. As with the spot outside the door, choose a favourite, check that it will suit the conditions, and position where you will pass it often. Here I have a Regal Lily in a pot. It is at the point where the path leads on from the patio area (change of direction), next to the shed door (regular stopping point). The regal lilies are hardy bulbs that come back well year after year without having to do anything to them except pick off any bright red lily beetles that are seen. When in full bloom, as they are right now, they give off loads of distinctive fragrance.

Use height to get closer to fragrant plants

GREEN FINGERS TIP: A great way to get the maximum scent from any flower is to raise it up closer to your nose! I visited Tintinhull a few years ago, outside Yeovil, and there was a massive planter filled with Nemesia, on a pedestal, lifting the fragrance to head height perfectly.

Nemesia "Wisley Vanilla" scented paths Green Fingered Blog
Twin raised planters full of Nemesia "Wisley Vanilla"

"Wisley Vanilla" is by far the most scented variety of Nemesia in my view and well worth having. I have one either side of this path, at the entrance to the patio, in raised planters that bring the fragrance right up to your nostrils.


A scented garden all year round

Witch hazel (Hammamelis) scented paths Green FIngered Blog
Hammamelis (Witch Hazel) at the corner
Scented walks through the garden are not just for summer. There are a number of plants you can place alongside paths and just outside your door so that you can enjoy a similar experience at other times too. For winter you can use Mahonia if you can give it a bit of space - the smell is lovely but the leaves are spiky so you don't want to get too close, it's not one to brush past! Better for a path is lower growing Sarcococca (Christmas box), while Viburnum bodnantense "Dawn" and Daphne odora are great just outside the door. My witch hazel (Hammamelis) is at the corner of a path, and winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima) has loads of scent. It's a climber so can grow against a wall or up a trellis.

Use foliage as well as flowers

GREEN FINGERS TIP: An easy way to have year round scent is to use scented foliage from hardy evergreens. Rosemary and lavender are good examples of hardy evergreen plants with fragrant leaves. Lavender needs good drainage and lots of sun. Rosemary will grow almost anywhere.

Santolina cotton lavender scented paths Green Fingered Blog
Santolina (Cotton Lavender)
Santolina chamaecyparissus (Cotton Lavender) is one of my favourites. It has a unique smell to the foliage. I keep it clipped so that it doesn't produce it's yellow flowers on long stalks but stays as compact cushions of fragrant grey fluffiness. Just brush your fingers through it and you get the gorgeous smell instantly.  


Don't forget the front path

Viburnum bodnantense Dawn scented paths Green Fingered Blog
Viburnum bodnantense "Dawn"
It's easy to ignore the front garden if it's as small as mine. But as it leads to the front door, we pass by it many times every day and so do any visitors, so it's worth finding ways of adding scent, outside the door or along the path if you have one.
Our door is only a few steps from the gate, and the front is mostly paved with just a few planting pockets, but there are pots of Dianthus, Daphne and a Honeysuckle, and Jasmine and Viburnum planted in the ground. This means there is something to smell on your way in or out at most times of the year. And of course the advantage of dealing in pots is you can move things into prime position when they are peaking and move them further away when they fade. I use sweet peas, lilac and others to add fragrance as well as colour at different times of year. It's a good idea to have a few pots for different seasons and rotate them throughout the year.
Lining your paths with fragrant plants and flowers is a great way to make the most of the warm summer evenings that are all too rare, and can be enjoyed at other times too.  So those are my suggestions for adding scent to any walk round the garden - what are yours? Do share your own favourites or recommendations by commenting below, and subscribe to get my next update straight to your inbox. 


  1. How lovely to discover your blog! Some great ideas too! We have a daphne right beside the steps as we go out the back door and a Winter Honeysuckle close by, both so generous with their lovely sweet scents during the Winter! And I love Viburnums - our V. burkwoodii ' Anne Russell' is just about to bloom, though our Wintersweet(Chimonanthus praecox) still has to flower for the first time!

  2. Hi Jane, glad you like the blog. Aren't these link ups a great idea? I enjoyed your blog too, though it was slightly strange reading about you coming out of winter while we are starting to prepare for it! But clearly many of the plants are the same so it does allow time to take ideas and plan how to use them before the same time of year arrives here! Hope you'll come back soon :) Paul


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