Scent in the Garden – October

I’m afraid, there’s  not been much blooming in the garden this month to provide us with perfume.

There’s the last of the lavender.


These lavenders, “Hidcote”, were planted earlier in the summer, in the sunny front garden. They’re settling in well and flowering nicely already. I love the dark purple flowers. They should be completed well by the paler Perovskia planted behind. The beauty of these two plants, is that they don’t need to flower to provide perfume. Like the lavender, Perovskia, too, has aromatic leaves.

And, of course, flowers don’t have the monopoly on scent. So many plants have scented, aromatic leaves and they provide the backbone to the scented garden. We all know the Mediterranean herbs well – Rosemary, sage, thyme and so on. Every well stocked garden should have these stalwarts, whether as decorative specimens, (just think of purple sage in a border!) or a as a dedicated herb garden. Brushing against the leaves gives a whiff of sunny climes!

At this time, when flowers are becoming more scarce, leaves are there to plug the gap. Apart from the obvious lavenders and herbs already mentioned, we have several other interesting plants who give us scent through their leaves. The Caryopteris, which has just stopped flowering, still has, for the moment, its aromatic foliage. Choisya ternata, Drymis and  Calycarpa are other shrubs that have scented leaves when rubbed. Did you know that, when crushed, Gaultheria procumbens (I know! It too, has had a name change! I think it’s now Pernettyia!) leaves smell of germolene? And that, when wet, the leaves of Rosa rubiginosa, the sweet briar rose, smells of apples?


Oh, and there’s Cestrum parqui, but that’s not pleasant!

So all is not lost!

Autumn is all about foliage, mainly due to its myriad of colours.

Isn’t this gorgeous?


This is Cercidiphyllum japonicum “Red Fox”, which have growing in a pot, under planted with the golden grass, Milium effusum, or Bowle’s golden grass, which complements this plants plum coloured foliage. But at this time of year its red leaves become a gorgeous mix of toffee shades. And that’s not all! The fallen leaves smell of candy Floss!

But, it has reached the time of year, where the scented flowering shrubs are heading towards their winter display.

Our wonderful Coronilla “Citrina” has started flowering again.


I swear it can only have stopped flowering a couple of months ago!

Mahonia japonica’s racemes of lemon, perfumed flowers are just starting to open, and Viburnum farreri has its tiny “cotton wool” balls of pink, flowering too.


Yes, summer is definitely gone and it’s all about winter now!

How’s your garden smelling this month? Do tell us!

And thank you to Wellywoman and Backlane Notebook, for starting this.

9 thoughts on “Scent in the Garden – October

  1. Chloris

    Well done Ali, October is a really difficult month for scent. I was hoping to include Magnolia grandiflora ‘ Little Gem’ because there are 2 buds just about to open. But they have not made it in time. My Cericiphyllum japonicum
    ‘ Pendulum’ smelt lovely but it has lost all its leaves now. So nothing scented to report. How shameful. More effort need for next October. Never mind winter brings all kinds of scented delight.

    1. thelonggardenpath Post author

      Yes, Chloris, it is a tricky time. Thank goodness for leaves! I’m afraid the scent from our Cercidiphyllum is not that strong. It may be too small a plant yet. Hopefully, we’ll see your Magnolia next month!

  2. Brian Skeys

    I was working in a garden the other day and there was a wonderful scent but I could not identify the source. It must have been coming from a tree or shrub somewhere.

    1. thelonggardenpath Post author

      I love it when that happens! I won’t rest till I find it! Sometimes, it’s a familiar scent I’m noticing and I know what I’m looking for. It happened at John Massey’s open garden day at Ashwood nurseries. I tracked down the familiar perfume of Elaeagnus, but also a new unfamiliar scent from an unknown (to me) tree.

  3. Pingback: Scent in the Garden – October | City To Country Magazine

  4. Christina

    The strongest scent in the garden now is the Elaeagnus, it’s perfume wafts around making the visitor search for where the scent is coming from as the flowers are so small they aren’t very visible.

    1. thelonggardenpath Post author

      We have Elaeagnus “Limelight” in the garden. It has one tiny flower bud that really doesn’t waft anywhere! It has never really flowered well, but since it was recently hard pruned to reshape it, that’s a hopeful sign. We have two other deciduous Elaeagnus – “Quicksilver” and umbellata – that flower in the summer and smell gorgeous!

  5. thelonggardenpath Post author

    Oh, dear! What a faux pas! I didn’t mean Callicarpa. I was talking about Calycanthus floridus! The leaves are said to smell of camphor, and the bark of cinnamon, hence its common name of Carolina allspice. So sorry! By the way, does your Callicarpa have scented leaves?


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