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As the days get shorter and colder and flowers in the garden become few and far between, what better way to lift the spirits than to have beautifully fragranced plants in your garden? Here are my top ten plants for autumn fragrance.

1. Rosa (rose) ‘Munstead Wood’

We tend to think of roses as being mid-summer flowerers, but many shrub roses continue to have second and even third flower flushes throughout the year and ‘Munstead Wood’ is no exception. Its deep dark red, highly scented, multi petalled flowers appear in flushes until the first frosts.

Furthermore, it’s a medium size shrub so best placed towards the front of the border to fully appreciate its scent and beautiful colour flowers. Although, a word of warning; watch out for its stems because they’re very prickly!

  • Flowers June to October
  • Hardy
  • Grows up to 1.5m tall and 1m wide
  • Moist but well-drained
  • Full sun or part shade
  • Sheltered or exposed
Rose-petal-salad-2

2. Abelia x grandiflora (glossy abelia)

Next up is a graceful, semi-evergreen small shrub perfect for a cottage style garden. Come summer it will start to produce masses of small, scented, pinky white flowers. Also, the joy of this shrub is that it will continue to flower on and off until first frosts.  In addition, it’s also a quick grower so you can save money by buying a smaller size pot.

  • Flowers June to October
  • Hardy
  • Grows up to 4m tall and 4m wide
  • Moist but well-drained
  • Full sun or dappled shade
  • Sheltered site
Rose-petal-salad-2

3. Elaeagnus x submacrophylla (silverberry)

This tough, leathery leafed, shiny, dark green evergreen shrub is used mostly for hedging or screening areas of the garden.  What’s not so widely known is that the tiny, creamy white flowers appearing in the autumn have the most delicious perfume which fill the air and is enough to lift anyone’s spirits on the coldest of days.

  • Flowers October to November
  • Hardy
  • Grows up to 4m tall and 4m wide
  • Well-drained or moist but well-drained
  • Full sun or part shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
Rose-petal-salad-2

4. Cercidiphyllum japonicum (katsura tree or candyfloss tree)

If you’re out and about walking on a sunny autumn day and catch the scent of caramelised sugar in the air, chances are you’re smelling the scent given off from this pretty medium size deciduous tree.  The heart shaped leaves will wow you in the autumn as they change colour from yellow to orange, to smokey pink to red. Also, they will delight you in the spring as new leaves emerge tinted bronze and pink. Due to their size they are an ideal specimen tree for the larger size garden.

  • Colourful foliage in autumn and flowers in spring
  • Hardy
  • Grows up to 10m tall and 5m wide
  • Well-drained soil or moist but well-drained
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Sheltered
Rose-petal-salad-2

5. Hippocrepis emerus (scorpion senna)

This bushy rounded shrub used to be called Coronilla emerus and they deserve to be more widely grown in gardens for the fact alone that they flower for weeks on end during the colder months of the year.

What’s more, is their dainty yellow flowers have a wonderful vanilla scent. This variety is deciduous and takes its common name from the fact that its seedpods look like a scorpion’s tail!

  • Flowers May to October
  • Hardy
  • Grows up to 2m tall and 2m wide
  • Well-drained
  • Full sun
  • Sheltered
Rose-petal-salad-2

6. Gladiolus murielae (Abyssinian gladiolus)

Either plant clusters of these corms in groups to weave their way through your flower borders or in containers. Without a doubt you’ll be wowed by their long lasting elegant scented white flowers with central maroon markings. An added bonus is that they make fantastic cut flowers too!

  • Flowers August to October
  • Hardy in coastal and relatively mild parts of the UK
  • Grows up to 1m tall and 40cm wide
  • Well-drained soil or moist but well-drained
  • Full sun
  • Sheltered
Rose-petal-salad-2

7. Helichrysum italicum (curry plant) 

If it’s a distinctive scent you’re after, this plant supplies it all and then some!  It’s the silver leaves on this evergreen shrub that produce the scent especially on a sunny day; wafts of curry!  So, if you love the smell of curry, this is definitely the plant for you!

  • Flowers July to August
  • Hardy throughout most of the UK
  • Grows up to 50cm tall and 1m wide
  • Well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Sheltered
Rose-petal-salad-2

8. Heptacodium miconioides (seven son flower)

Here’s another unusual deciduous shrub that deserves to be more widely grown in the UK. But don’t be fooled by its exotic looks, because it’s actually fully hardy and ideal for a small garden.  It has elegant, hanging leaves, is quick growing and easy to look after. An added bonus is that it produces highly scented creamy-white flowers late summer into early autumn.

  • Flowers September to November
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 8m tall and 4m wide
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained
  • Full sun or part shade
  • Sheltered
Rose-petal-salad-2

9. Myrtus communis (common myrtle)

Next is a medium evergreen shrub that has small, dark, leathery leaves that are also fragranced. Pretty, white flowers bloom in summer, lasting until autumn. Not only that, they are followed by purple-black berries for plenty of interest.

  • Flowers July to August
  • Hardy in through most of the UK
  • Grows up to 2.5m tall and 2.5m wide
  • Moist but well-drained
  • Full sun
  • Sheltered
Rose-petal-salad-2

10. Achillea millefolium (yarrow) ‘Pomegranate’

Lastly, this compact perennial has semi-evergreen fern-like and fragranced foliage. In spring and summer, reddish-pink flowers bloom in clusters. Perfect for patios, beds, and borders, they will also make great cut flowers too.

  • Flowers May to August
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 50cm tall
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained
  • Full sun
  • Exposed or sheltered
Rose-petal-salad-2

Read this for tips on creating a sensory garden:

Or check out my Pinterest board for more ideas:

sensory garden design
Sensory garden
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Pinterest Board


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