Love of sweet smells tempts children to raid adult gardens as much as does love of color. Almost the first thing a youngster does with a plucked flower is to sniff it. Flowers and fragrance are synonymous to him.
Yet the modern garden is by no means the glorious gathering place for fragrance that the old-fashioned one was. Hybridizers have been breeding new flowers for almost everything but scent. Many lovely flowers have practically no fragrance, and many others are but mildly scented. In a test covering over a thousand flowers only one in twenty was found to be as heavily perfumed as heliotrope, and only one in ten was pleasantly aromatic.
The failure of a child's garden to meet the nose test could prove very disappointing. A whole garden, if desired, could be devoted to fragrance, where anything lacking the gift of perfume is an interloper. If you don't want to go that far, do at least see that olfactory lure is not entirely lacking.
Look to the old-fashioned flowers for the sweetest perfumes. Nothing has ever surpassed the roses of yesterday for fragrance. Certain oldtime peonies, lilies and pinks are particularly sweet. However, search your catalogs for fragrant varieties of all standard flowers. There is evidence that some modern hybridizers are now turning to fragrance as one of their goals.
Annuals, or flowers usually grown as annuals, can boast of the greatest number of perfumed flowers. Here is a partial list:
Carnations or clove pinks
Evening or white campion (Lychnis alba)
Nasturtium-particularly the old-fashioned giants
Pinks, both cheddar and grass pinks
Evening stock (Mathiola bicornis)
Siberian wallflower (Erysimum asperum)
Perennials (except for roses, peonies and others already noted) have less to contribute. Very pleasantly scented, however, are geraniums of many kinds, sweet violets, garden heliotrope (Valeriana officinalis) with its sweet pervasive perfume, and sweet rocket (Hesperis matronalis), which is a delight in spite of its weedy growth.
Bulb flowers have a very important role to play. There is the cloying perfume of the hyacinth and the heady sweetness of the tuberose. Royal lilies, Madonna lilies, Lilium auratum, Lilium giganteum and many other true lilies are particularly blessed with fragrance. Other scented bulbs and flowers include the Peruvian daffodil, vesper iris, the graminea iris with its plum
like fragrance, Gladiolus tristis which has a delightful after-dusk perfume, and sweet scented gladiolus (not a true gladiolus but botanically Acidanthera murielae).