Plants produce a great array of aromatic substances. Leaf aromas encompass mint, lemon, rose and even curry, while strongly scented flowers attract pollinating insects and even mammals.
The Scented Garden was designed in 1960 to perfume the air and stimulate our sense of smell. To help collect and intensify the scents, the site was scooped out to create a protected well. Along the north side of the plot, the planting bed is raised so that all visitors can encounter the scented foliage and flowers at close range, including early bulbs such as Pheasant Eye (Narcissus poeticus) and Hyacinth. The Scented Garden received a major planting overhaul in 2008 when some over-dominant shrubs were removed in order to diversify the plantings. Cushions of herbs were used to create a textured base for choice shrub roses, including 'Sceptr'd Isle'. Right in the centre of this bowl of living pot-pourri, timber sleepers were piled to retain the south-side planting and create a lovely new place to sit and luxuriate in the fragrances of the Scented Garden.
The Scented Garden is fragrant even in the depths of winter with the rich, exotic notes of Wintersweet, Chimonanthus praecox, and the vanilla of Viburnum farreri. In the summer, the wooden shelter in the heart of the Scented Garden is bathed in the sweet lemon of Rosa mulligani which is trained across its roof. Annual plants include old varieties of sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus) scrambling up willow wigwams and many scented tobacco plants (Nicotiana). Scented-leaf Pelargonium species are included for texture and for the sharp scents released when the foliage is lightly brushed.