Fragrant and aromatic plants: Better living through chemistry
by High Country Gardens
What makes some plants fragrant, and others not?
Instinctively, when we see a beautiful flower, we lean over to sniff it hoping for a sweet scent. The natural perfume of plants is an attribute we gardeners are always searching for.
There are two types of scents to be found in plants;
Fragrant flowers and plants are ones that release a scent into the air
Aromatic plants release their scented oils when brushed, bent or crushed
Flowers that release scent often do so to attract pollinators. Many nocturnal blooming plants have strongly scented flowers that attract moths and other night-flying insects. A flower’s color is of no use to pollinators in the dark of night.
Aromatic plants are those that have volatile oils in their leaves and stems. When brushed against or their foliage is bent or crushed, the scents are released. These types of plants are often cultivated for their essential oils. Culinary herbs like sage, thyme, rosemary and lavender are aromatic plants long associated with mankind. These and other aromatic plants use their aromatic oils as a defense against browsing animals, like deer and rabbits. Since plants are rooted in place and can’t run away for protection, they have enlisted the help of chemicals to provide them with some defense. These plants are a great choice for areas where deer and rabbits are a problem.
I've long had a great fondness for fragrant and aromatic plants. Salvia (Sage), Agastache (Hummingbird Mint), Lavandula (Lavender), Berlandiera (Chocolate Flower), Garden Phlox (Phlox), Pansies (Viola) and many others are planted in my gardens to enjoy their scents.
'Blut' is one of the very best cold hardy Ice Plants. With its vigorous growth habit, durable evergreen foliage and summer-long display of deep magenta-red flowers, it is an invaluable groundcover. Drought resistant/drought tolerant plant (xeric).
Commonly known as Poppy Mallow or Wine Cups, Callirhoe involucrata is a native wildflower that decorates the garden with a summer-long display of bright magenta-pink flowers. A sprawling grower, Callirhoe involucrata's long branches spread out across the ground to create a colorful mat of flowers and foliage. Drought resistant perennial plant (xeric).
Perovskia atriplicifolia Blue Spires (Blue Spires Russian Sage) is the best large growing Russian Sage selection blooming with dark blue flower spikes appearing in mid-summer. Thought to be a hybrid of two species, this plant has amazing vigor and blooms for many months.
Salvia sylvestris ‘May Night’ (May Night Sage) blooms prolifically with deep purple-blue flowers. It is an outstanding perennial with excellent cold hardiness, vigor, and tolerance of heavy clay soils. Blooming in late spring with a profusion of flower spikes, it reblooms later in the summer when deadheaded.
Agastache Ava is one of High Country Gardens very best plant introductions, renowned for its tall spikes of deep rose-pink flowers held by raspberry-red calyxes. This vigorous hybrid Hummingbird Mint blooms for many months beginning in mid-summer. 2005 Plant of the Year.
Blonde Ambition Blue Grama Grass (Bouteloua gracilis Blonde Ambition PP#22,048) is a native ornamental grass with a completely new look. The horizontal eyelash-like chartreuse flowers appear in mid-summer and age to blonde seed heads by fall. They are held on the plant right through the winter to provide many months of interest. 2011 Plant of The Year
A High Country Gardens Exclusive, our drought resistant jumbo Waterwise pre-planned garden will allow you to grow more flowers while using less water with this arresting combination of long-blooming, easy-care perennials. Their bright, clear colors are a delight to your eye, but their inedible foliage will keep the rabbits and deer at bay. Perfect for that hot, sunny spot in your yard. Available in two sizes, 18 or 27 plants. Drought resistant/drought tolerant plant (xeric). Save $20 off the single plant price!