As gardeners we love to chat to people as they walk around Wisley. Sometimes they ask us questions, sometimes we overhear their conversations. And during the summer months there is a question that is often spoken – 'Mmm, where’s that lovely smell coming from?'
Of course, the garden is full of hundreds of fragrant flowers, but one in particular that stands out is a low-growing, whitish plant called Nemesia ‘Wisley Vanilla’.
It’s a half-hardy perennial that we plant out after the frosts each year in different locations around the garden. This year the Model Gardens is enchanted by its presence, where the scent is retained by the slightly more enclosed nature of the area. It’s lovely observing people as they get a whiff of the sweet vanilla aroma as they wander by.
The flower itself is small, off-white with a pinkish tinge and pale yellow centre. We trim back the flowered stems to encourage more, and it is possible to take cuttings or overwinter the plant.
Over the years we’ve used this plant as a dot plant, as bedding en masse, and in containers. Bedding en masse obviously creates the most impressive fragrance – it is not subtle – but strategically placed containers bring the plant closer to your nose and have that 'double-take' effect.
However you use it, it will bring a wow-factor to your garden, and a smile to your face.
More about scented plants
Favourite scented plants
We asked RHS members to tell us their most-loved scented plants
Fragrant climbers and wall shrubs
Perfect by a door or near a seating area
Scented plants for winter
Make your garden smell delightful during the colder months