Good Gardens Make Good Scents

A summer-long presentation by the Garden State Gardens Consortium highlights the importance of scent on the perception of your garden.

Frelinghuysen Arboretum’s fragrant Haggerty arbor is the site of the Story of Scent series, part of the statewide Scentsational Gardens program.
Photo by Chase Heilman.

A green thumb and a good eye for color will help you plant a beautiful garden. But if you also take scent into account, you will reward yourself with some of gardening’s headiest pleasures.

That’s the message conveyed by Scent-sational Gardens of the Garden State, a summer-long presentation by the Garden State Gardens Consortium at several of New Jersey’s most gorgeously planted locations.

“Any plant that requires pollination produces scent,” explains Lesley Parness, superintendent of Horticultural Education at the Morris County Park Commission and vice president of the consortium. But in gardening as in comedy, timing matters. “If you work all day, you may want to attract nighttime pollinators so you are home when your garden is most fragrant.” 

The consortium’s lineup of programs, demonstrations and tours kicks off with free activities at Frelinghuysen Arboretum in Morristown, where the Story of Scent will be presented June through September under a partnership with fragrance manufacturer Coty Inc. Visitors can enjoy plant exhibits and cell phone-guided tours; participate in scent- and taste-related crafts; and venture into the Haggerty Education Center to learn about the five families of scent or try scent experiments. Here are some of the other Scent-sational Gardens programs:

•    Summit’s historic Reeves-Reed Arboretum will hold an informational walk through its aromatic rose garden in peak bloom starting at 1 pm on June 9 (free for members; $5 nonmembers).
•    The newly reopened Duke Farms will hold two events—Container Gardening with Herbs, June 14; and Magnificent Mints, June 28—both starting at 10 am (preregistration required,

•    The Laurelwood Arboretum in Wayne Township will host herbalist and author Robin Rose Bennett from 4 to 6 pm on June 20 for a stroll showing how fragrance helps us decipher the medicinal properties of plants (free for members; nonmembers $15).

•    Laura Roberts, garden manager at Van Vleck House and Gardens in Montclair, will explain fragrances “from fantastic to foul” arising from the garden’s trees, shrubs and flowers at 1 pm on June 27, followed by fun activities. Children are welcome, if accompanied by an adult.

For a full list of events at public gardens in your area visit


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