Sweet-smelling herbs have often been used in nosegays, posies, pomanders and potpourri. In medieval times, the sweet fragrance of herbs tied in a small bunch and carried on the body was a way of disguising less pleasant smells. Sometimes, the herbs were strewn on the floor to freshen the straw. Even today, a variety of dried flowers and leaves of herbs are used in homes to scent the air. Most of the herbs are easily available to grow in pots or gardens.
A native North American woodland herb, bergamot has sweetly scented leaves with bright red flowers during summer and fall. The plant has a similar smell to bergamot orange, which is used to flavour Earl Grey tea. It is a good herb for attracting butterflies and bees, and makes a good border plant. The flowers dry well for using in potpourri, retaining both their colour and fragrance. Young leaves have a sweet-smelling scent citrus scent.
According to "Teach Yourself Herbs," the sweet fragrance of chamomile was popular on lawns in Tudor England, where it released its scent when trodden upon. Long known as a healing herb used as a calming tea, and in beauty products, chamomile is sometimes known as the "physician plant" as it often improves the health of neighbouring plants. The German chamomile has slender branchlike stems and sweetly scented leaves. It produces aromatic flowers.
The sweet-smelling scent of the evening primrose attracts moths when its yellow flowers open at twilight in summer and early fall. Easily grown on most types of soil, the oil from this herb is widely used to correct hormonal imbalances and dry skin problems. The leaves can be added to salads. The individual blooms are short-lived, but the plant grows easily from the abundant seeds.
The official name for lemon balm, Melissa, is from the Greek word for honeybee, and this sweet lemon-scented herb is often used for its calming effect. It is a useful plant for shady, damp corners, and it produces creamy white flowers in summer. It can be dried and used in potpourri, and as a tea, but according to "Growing Herbs," the scent tends to fade slightly after a time when dried.
One of the most popular scented herbs, lavender has been used for centuries as a fragrance to ward off unpleasant smells. In the middle ages, it was often strewn over floors or carried in nosegays. It is also excellent for drying in bunches from the ceiling for use in potpourri and scented sachets. The flowers can be used for soaps and perfumes, or for ice cream and sweets.