Fragrant Favorites

Fragrant Favorites

Sure, color and texture in your garden is important, but what about fragrance? Dan Hinkley in his new book Windcliff comments on “the roughly 400 scent receptors in the human brain..that distinguish one trillion odors…and my cache of smells will keep me wined and dined for all of my remaining days." 

How lucky we are in the PNW, that there are still plenty of plants growing right now that will pack a fragrant punch. Layering several of the options below can provide aromatherapy year-round! We have picked a few of our favorites for each season and listed them below:


Paperbush (Edgeworthia): One of our favorite fragrances, this plant has unique white buds that emerge as sculptural knobs in December and slowly bloom into pendulous clusters of tiny yellow flowers through March.  The sweet-smell is close to that of gardenia.  

Sweet Box (Sarcococca confusa): There is a reason this plant is nicknamed “sweet box!” Not only does it have a fantastic, sweet scent, but it provides year-round interest with it’s bright, colorful red berries and tidy evergreen foliage.

Winter Daphne (Daphne odora): A dream choice for a late winter/early spring bloom. The intensity and specific aroma is an unforgettable balm that is the most inexpensive perfume you can have welcoming you for decades.  Purple buds open to pink-white flower clusters on top of evergreen foliage.


Hyacinth: Hyacinth bulbs bloom in mid-spring and are always a crowd-pleaser when it comes to fragrance (and color!). They can be planted in containers and garden beds, making them an easy way to introduce fragrance into even the smallest of spaces. 

Mock Orange (Philadelphus lewisii)- native:  In late spring/early summer, the heady sweet orange fragrance from the white single flowers slows down the passersby and fills the bees with high octane pollen.  Undeservedly underused. 


Roses: The David Austin varieties, in particular, are a fan-fave when it comes to providing extraordinary scent and long-lasting bloom beauty.  After disease resistance, fragrance is our primary criteria to curate our rose collection.

Star Jasmine: Small clumps of tiny white, pinwheel-shaped flowers bloom throughout the summer months in the PNW, providing a sweet and spicy scent, no matter sun or shade.


Daphne 'Eternal Fragrance’:   This well-behaved long-blooming evergreen shrub, great for sun to part shade, is one of the few softly sweet perfumes that engulf the air nearby nearly year-round, but especially noticeable in fall when very few other plants capture your olfactory senses.  True to its name, a must-have for a garden or container.  

Osmanthus: Osmanthus, particularly the ‘San Jose’ is a fan-favorite during the early autumn months. We often have patrons “following their noses” to discover the source of the sweet and slightly spicy fragrance of this “sweet olive” as described in this Oregonian Live article.