Plants with fragrant leaves will add a lot to your garden scene. Ornamentals that have a rich perfume such as stocks, narcissus, carnations and comparable subjects, are of course, well-known. Creating the same kind of an environment but with foliage plants will prove an interesting gardening adventure.
One of the most delightful fragrances in the plant kingdom emanates from the leaves of the diosma, often called coleonema by nurserymen. This ornamental is more familiarly known as “breath of heaven” which is an apt description. Two varieties are available: Alba, which produces white toned flowers and Purpurea which develops blooms of a purple-pink tinge. The plant has somewhat the appearance of a heath and demands a spot out in the sun. Rubbing the leaves together causes the fragrance to be more pronounced.
For a clean fragrance that will remind you of the great outdoors, choose Libocedrus decurrens. This is a California native and as such is sure to succeed in your garden. It has what is known as a “woodsy” smell; it is like bringing the mountains to your garden. This incense cedar is well adapted for the average landscape, being neither too large nor too small . At maturity, the tree should approximate a height of from 40 to 50 feet.
Libocedrus decurrens is somewhat on the formal side and this characteristic should be kept in mind relative to its surroundings. The tree has a stately shape and is well proportioned. The foliage is dense, the tree being quite full in the center. It assumes a pyramidal type of growth. The aromatic smell should aid in wiping out gasoline fumes that may blow into your garden from the street.
A somewhat taller tree is eucalyptus citriodora, so named because of its lemon-like scent. This specimen grows to around 70 feet high and gets there rather rapidly. One distinguishing mark of the eucalyptus citriodora is its white trunk that, because of the smoothness of the surface, appears to be polished. The leaves which are slender in shape have the exact pungency of a lemon.
Myrtus communis, the myrtle of Roman times and well known throughout the pages of history, is one of Southern California’s most popular hedge plants; and deservedly so. The foliage is shiny in appearance and highly aromatic in fragrance, the small white flowers give way in early spring to blackberries.
For hedge purposes you have a choice of two excellent myrtles: The common type is the large-growing specimen, going from four to eight feet. Variety compacta, which in late years has become increasingly more popular, ranges from three to six feet. Both varieties are hardy down to 15 degrees temperature and tolerate a great deal of pruning. This allows shaping the plants as wished. These myrtles also perform well as specimen plants. They require very little care.
Salvia officinalis, the green sage of the culinary arts, is as important in the kitchen, as an herb, as it is in the garden as an ornamental. Housewives who take their cooking, or seasoning, seriously are well acquainted with the magic powers of the leaves of a sage plant. It is a perennial and will continue on in your garden for many years. The blooms which appear in racemes are purple, blue and white.