by Jackie Carroll
Fragrance is key to setting the mood in the garden, but if you only use flowers to provide fragrance, your are limiting yourself. Aromatic foliage can provide interest over a much longer season. As a bonus, many plants with scented foliage have silvery or grey leaves, which adds dimension when planted near the dark green foliage of your flowering plants.
Most plants with fragrant foliage love a long day of hot summer sun, and they release their fragrance during the heat of mid-day. They also release a burst of fragrance when handled or bruised slightly. To increase their effect, plant low-growing foliage such as creeping thyme between stepping stones where they will be kicked and scuffed, and plant taller plants near doors and walkways where they will be brushed from time to time.
Fragrant Foliage Favorites:
Alpine Mint Bush (Prostanthera cuneata) - shown above
24 inches tall
This little evergreen shrub combines the fragrances of mint and incense. It's not suitable for very cold sites.
French Lavender (Lavandula stoechas) - shown at left
24 inches tall
This evergreen shrub has silvery foliage and a rich aroma. Flowers are dusky rose-pink. Shelter the plants from cold winds.
Incense Plant (Calomeria amaranthoides)
5 feet tall
This biennial has a strong scent of incense. It produces clusters of tiny, red-brown flowers in its second year. Save the seeds to propagate.
Lemon Verbena (Aloysia triphylla)
3 feet tall
This shrub is vigorous, but will only withstand a light frost. The small, white flowers are not very spectacular. It is primarily grown for its light green, heavily scented foliage.
Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans)
36 inches tall
This evergreen shrub has bright scarlet flowers in late summer and fall. It will need winter protection.