Peak interest: April to October
An avenue of Chinese Flowering Dogwood (Cornus kousa) leads you to the Scented Garden, with its traditional stone walls, gravel paths, boxwood edging, and cooling central fountain.
Plant scents can be penetrating or elusive and subtle but touch our lives in many ways. They not only arouse our memory—lilacs are the essence of spring, and fresh-mown hay means the height of summer—but we have long used plants to add fragrance to ourselves and our homes.
Scented plants are often used commercially in the production of perfumes and fragrances. The fragrance produced by some plants is extremely complex. Take lilacs for example. The fragrance is made up of 185 different compounds. As a result, essential oils from lilac flowers are too intricate to reproduce and so lilac perfume in cosmetics is actually derived from extracts of non-related flowers.
The scents and fragrances produced by plants aren’t just for our pleasure alone. Some plants rely on wind or gravity, for pollination but many rely on scent. The fragrance of the flower alerts pollinators such as insects, bats and hummingbirds that the plant is ready to be pollinated. When the animals arrive to collect pollen or nectar the pollen gets transferred. As a result, plants and pollinators often display a long history of mutual evolution.
The Scented Garden explores the range of scents through the use of annuals, perennials and shrubs that produce scented flowers as well as scented, "scratch and sniff" leaves.