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Some people love specific plants just because of their scent.

Rosemary. (Jeremy Yoder, flickr)

Some people love specific plants just because of their scent, even if their other characteristics are insignificant.

Herbs entice us because of their aroma, and of course, lavender and rosemary are especially revered because of their distilled perfumes that are quite recognizable even by many who have never grown them.

Basil and oregano are especially beloved by those who enjoy cooking, as are thyme, fennel and tarragon.

Helichrysum angustifolium has silver leaves that smell like curry. Like most herbs, it likes full sun and sharp drainage.

All herbs are Mediterranean natives so need those conditions and grow best in raised beds or on a slope. If water does not drain off, their roots rot.

Lavender and roses are often paired in romantic gardens, and since scent has been bred out of many modern roses, experts suggest that we always buy rose bushes when they are in bloom so that we can smell them prior to purchase.

An experienced gardener once told me “to smell honeysuckle in other folks’ gardens,” as it is such a rampant spreader. On the other hand, tobacco plants (nicotiana), lilacs, and lily of the valley are fragrant but also well behaved.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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