The Scented Garden, Part Two: Summer

Burford Farmhouse Pathway
Part 2, Summer

At this time of year, a gentle walk round a cottage garden proves that exquisite fragrance is not achieved at the expense of great beauty. Take a stroll early in the morning, or on a still, warm evening, and a visual flood of colour will raise your spirits. But many of these plants release volatile oils from their colourful petals to attract pollinators, so their scents will also transport you.

Burford Farmhouse Rose Arch

The velvety glamour of any rose is heightened by its fragrance. The effect of walking through a rose arch smothered in scented blooms, or inhaling the scent through an open window is unforgettable. From a vast cast of roses here, we have made a personal choice of three dreamy examples: Rosas Wollerton Old Hall, Boscobel and Vanessa Bell.


Because climbers can reach further, their impact can be wider – Clematis montana Mayleen illustrates this perfectly, the pretty, simple flowers smelling of vanilla. The scents of Honeysuckle (Lonicera scentsation), beloved of cottage gardens, and the exotic looking Trachelospernum jasminoides, are more potent in the evening, focussing on attracting late pollinators such as moths. Both give extraordinary pleasure if planted near a terrace where you might settle in the evening, as does Jasminium officinale which has the capacity to cover a wall with tiny, sweet-smelling, starry flowers.

Burford Farmhouse
Aromatic leaves

In the heat of the day aromatic foliage of many originally Mediterranean plants willingly releases its scent, especially if you brush past it, hence the popularity of banks of Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinale), near the house or lavender (Lavenudula angustifolia - Vera, Hidcote or Munstead), lining pathways. The aroma of Nepeta Purrsian Blue is lovely to humans and drives cats almost mad with joy.

Lavender at Burford Farmhouse


Other summer aromas naturally spring to mind, the native Elder pungently fills the hedgerow in July but its cultivar, the mysterious, dark-leaved Sambucus nigra Black Beauty is a small shrub that produces glorious panicles of pink flowers with a fresh citrussy smell.

Herbaceous border

Last but not least, scenting the air from a dappled border, are two remarkable herbaceous perennials that are a little rarer, but prove the point about beauty and scent being great allies: the sweetly scented, brilliant blue Corydalis Calycosa and the handsome Actea Simplex Brunette, which smells of honey, jasmine and vanilla.