Shrubs are workhorses in your garden. They can be formal or informal hedges, or backgrounds for perennial blooms, while offering surprising seasonal colour. Shrubs may also please the nose as well as the eye; some shrubs are highly fragrant. Plant fragrant shrubs near windows, patios and walkways to add an extra dimension to your landscape.
For fragrance, the rose (Rosa sp.) immediately jumps to mind. There are many types of roses, from the tough Lady Banks rose that may cover over 8,000 square feet to miniature roses sold in grocery stores. These shrubs, once established, are remarkably tough and produce brightly coloured flowers that often scent an entire yard. The scents themselves range from spicy to heavily floral, including the old-fashioned Gruss an Aachen rose that smells of cold cream and Mr. Lincoln, a red, hybrid tea rose with a reliable, classic rose scent. Many modern varieties bloom throughout the season. Deadhead roses to keep the shrubs tidy, and ask your local extension for varieties ideal for your climate. Shrub roses do require annual pruning, so keep a thick pair of gloves handy to shield you from their thorns. Roses are hardy in most zones.
Mock orange (Philadelphus coronarius) produces white flowers in summer, scenting the air with the citrus scent of orange blossoms. This deciduous shrub does not require tropical temperatures, however, and is happiest in zones 4 to 8. Mock orange tolerates sun, drought, wind and most soils but prefers well-drained locations. It has a rather rough appearance, rounded but often producing leggy, vertical branches up to 12 feet tall. Growers have developed smaller, neater varieties suited to smaller yards. 'Nanus' grows only four feet tall and forms a dense mound. Do not confuse this cultivar with other mock oranges in the same family, which are scentless.
The flowers of the clove currant (Ribes odoratum), as its name suggests, have a strong clove fragrance. This spicy scent comes from deceptively small, yellow flowers in spring. The shrub itself has attractive, glossy, deep green leaves sporting toothy lobes, similar to a hawthorn tree or a columbine. Black berries follow the flowers in summer. The yellow to red fall colour is brief. Clove currant often grows wider than it is tall, maturing at nine feet tall and up to 12 feet wide, making it a good choice for natural hedges. Although it is adaptable, it prefers regular water and neutral, well-drained soil. Clove currant is hardy in USDA zones 3 to 7.