“Of all the ingredients we employ in the creation of a garden, scent is probably the most potent and the least understood. Its effects can be either direct and immediate, drowning our senses in a surge of sugary vapor, or they can be subtle and delayed, slowly wafting into our consciousness, stirring our emotions and coloring our thoughts.” – Stephen Lacey, Scent in Your Garden, 1991
Jasmine in twilight. New bamboo after a rain. A blooming lemon tree under the sun. Our senses respond to the garden not just as a pretty picture (which of course it is), but something to touch, to taste, and, perhaps most of all, to smell. Aromachology is the study of how scents affect our moods and behavior. The following are three settings that use this science to enhance your garden.
The morning garden:
When you need refreshing and energy.
Try putting a little breakfast table by a lemon tree. Surround it with lavender and rosemary, and perhaps a pot of peppermint. The green herbal and citrus scents enhance wakefulness. Since lemon, rosemary, and lavender plants have similar desires (sunny location, good drainage), they will thrive together. The peppermint is best in a pot, because it likes richer soil and good water, and has a tendency to spread like wildfire. If you’re a city dweller with a sunny patio, all of these plants can be potted; Meyer lemons do especially well in a container.
A perfect scented spot to start your morning, and if you take tea, the lemons are right there. Peppermint also makes a lovely refreshing tisane (boiling water poured over chopped fresh herbs).
The lazy afternoon garden:
For calming and relaxing.
Shady hammocks are always good for a lazy afternoon, or try my sister’s favorite and drag a good comforter (no ratty beach blankets) out into a sunny, grassy spot. Plant chamomile, scented geraniums, and roses. Soft, earthy florals relax and soothe. A site with moist, fluffy, well-drained soil and good sunshine will support this lovely trio. Chamomile is a feathery, apple-scented plant with small daisy-like flowers that can be used as ground cover. Scented geraniums and old-fashioned roses are cottage-garden staples. These flowers are also prized for their culinary value; chamomile tea, geranium scented sugar, and rose-petal jam are just a few uses.
The evening garden:
To excite your senses.
A futon or chaise is the perfect setting to enjoy falling dusk in your garden. Jasmine, thyme, and orange trees make a lovely fragrant backdrop. Green notes and white blossoms perfume the evening air with sedative and aphrodisiac qualities. These plants prefer a warm climate, good sun (jasmine tolerates partial shade and likes a little more moisture, so a bush variety could be planted under the orange), and well-drained soil. The white and lavender flowers of all three are colors that stand out as twilight approaches, making them ideal choices for the evening garden.
Perfumes are the feelings of flowers. – Heinrich Heine
Eleanor Athens is the founder of E aromachologic fragrance oils; scents created from pure essential oils and perfumer’s absolutes. Her interests in phyto- and aromatherapy led to the creation of a fragrance line that uses organic ingredients to enhance the well-being of the wearer.
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