The delights of a sudden waft fragrance in a garden can be compared to none.
Aside from the sweet scents invigorating and helping calm nerves, they can stir emotions and be the trigger to memories.
Nicholas Nyaga,who lives in Nairobi’s Runda, attests to this truth saying it is the reason he has planted the star jasmine at the main entrance to his vast compound.
“As I enter the gate in the evening, I love the waft of sweet scent from the little starry flowers. I get lost in its delights which sort of helps me unwind,” he says.
Aside from the star jasmine, his well-manicured lawn is hedged by rose shrubs which, he says, is not only for aesthetics but also for therapeutic value.
Naomi Wanjiku, a flower dealer along Nairobi’s Chiromo Lane, points out that a garden should engage all five senses.
“When designing your garden, do not just focus on the scent aspect of the plants but also on shapes and colours of foliage. Otherwise you might end up with a fragrant garden that looks overdone,” she says.
The trick, she says, is to understand the basic characteristics of the plants you select.
Consider if they are creepers that can be trained, vine yards that can be trained and arched or scrubs that can grow into thick foliage.
Ms Wanjiku shares examples of scented plant varieties that can spread across the yard to boost its appeal.
It bears close resemblance to the rose and is also known as Cape jasmine. This indoor plant is preferred mostly for its attractive foliage and highly scented showy flowers that are either solitary or in small clusters of white or pale yellow with a tubular-based corolla with five to 12 lobes.
The gardenia needs specific soil acidity, plenty of water, cool temperatures and high humidity. It is vulnerable to pests and root disease. Growing gardenias in clay pots can help counter a number of these challenges as a gardener will be able to control their incidence.
The star jasmine vine grows fast and is highly decorative with the coveted fragrant blossoms
It is ideally grown as a vine that can cover a tall wall or trellis quickly once the plant’s root system gets established. Regular and strategic pruning is necessary if the plant is to create a hedge of star jasmine.
Overall, jasmines can either be erect, spreading or climbing shrubs and vines. Their leaves can be simple, trifoliate or pinnate and their flowers can be white, yellow or reddish. Interestingly, the star jasmine flower buds are more fragrant than the flowers which let out its fragrance at night after the sun has set and this especially happens when the moon is waxing towards fullness.
Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
This colourful plant is scientifically known as Brunfelsia pauciflora, a decorative shrub originally from Brazilian woodlands. It blooms prolifically and draws its popular name from its characteristic flower colour change.
The shrub produces blooms that open into a soft purple colour, that fades to pastel lilac and finally to white before fading away.
“Aside from its amazing scent, the flowers are interesting to watch as they are purple on day one of blooming, turn lavender on day two and finally white on the third day,” says Ms Wanjiku.
It prefers warm climate and can be grown in the ground or a large pot as its evergreen leaves can grow up to between seven to 10 feet tall.
The plant grows as shrubs and the flowers may be blue, lilac or violet. The flowers are borne in whorls, held in spikes rising above the foliage. Aside from its calming and relaxing fragrance, the lavender may be used to cleanse cuts, bruises and skin irritations. Carrying a bottle of lavender is more like having your own first aid kit, perfume and pick-me-up.