1. Life & Culture

Brandies: Fragrant flowers call memories to the heart

It is said that fragrance can call to the heart more memories than sight, song or other senses.

And while many flowers have little or no fragrance, and I like them still, here are some of my favorites that smell heavenly.

Most people will agree that roses can smell delightful. The truth is that roses vary quite a bit from little fragrance at all to better than the best perfume. Remember those corsages we got for proms in our youth? Or bouquets that filled the room with sweetness?

I only grow roses that don't need spraying and one of my best is the Louis Philippe that blooms out near the road. I started it from a cutting probably 20 years ago. It is at least 6 feet tall and blooms repeatedly all year round. The only fault it has is that the blooms are not large or full and thus not good for bouquets. But they smell wonderful.

My Florida Gardener's Book of Lists gives 34 more of the most fragrant roses, and lists for trees, shrubs, vines, perennials, and annuals with fragrant flowers, also.

When we first moved to Florida in 1987 and the orange blossomed in the spring, you could smell them any time you went outdoors even if there were no trees in sight. There were still many groves within Brandon and almost all yards had some trees. Alas, citrus greening and development have taken that away and I have to go out and stick my nose into the few blooms I still get. But I can remember the scent and how sweet is was.

Right after the citrus blooms passed, the jasmines began to bloom, and they still do. Many but not all of the true jasmines are very fragrant, but the most common, Confederate jasmine, is actually from another family and the botanical name is Trachelospermum jasminoidies. It is an evergreen vine, but it flowers for several weeks in the spring and looks and smells wonderful.

I have a night-blooming jasmine, Cestrum nocturnum, which is another family yet, and blooms repeatedly most of the year. The fragrance only is noticeable at night and then it is very strong. It might even be too much for some.

My mother thought gardenias were too strong. I love the scent of gardenias, and they are gorgeous when they are fresh, but a shrub full may well be more than you can keep up with deadheading, so I recommend to plant these out of the spotlight. Some of the newer varieties bloom repeatedly, the older ones only in the spring.

I had never seen or heard of butterfly gingers before I came to Florida. But for years now I have had both the white and the pale yellow ones. The fragrance is awesome. The yellow ones grow quite a bit taller than the white. They have already bloomed this year and will continue into the fall. The flowers are exquisite but they need to be deadheaded daily to keep looking good. It is an easy chore since there are fewer blooms: no bending, just taking in the fragrance.

One of my very favorite plants is the nasturtium that is already popping up in my garden. They have a pungent fragrance and you won't notice the fragrance from the ground. You have to bring in a small bouquet and put it close to your nose or beside your bed or chair, but it is a very different and delightful scent.

You can start nasturtiums from seeds or buy plants if you find them. But once you have them they usually reseed for you every year and spread nicely. Besides being easy to grow and constant with flowers, all parts are edible. Use them to add zest to a salad or sandwich. They're very healthy.

There are many more fragrant plants. Seek them out and enjoy both the sight and the scent.

Monica Brandies is an experienced gardener and author of 12 gardening books. She has a degree in horticulture and is an alumni fellow from Temple University. She can be reached at Her website is