Fragrant climbing plants, such as honeysuckle and clematis, add both color and sweet scents to the garden. These aromatic climbers can also be found growing wild.
Fragrant climbers, such as honeysuckle and clematis, framed 16th and 17th century English arbors, together with hawthorn, to create a romantic and discreet meeting place for lovers; in Elizabethan times, both honeysuckle and clematis (particularly Clematis flammula) were very popular aromatic climbers found in many gardens. Arbor derives from the old French erbier, from erbe meaning ‘grass, herb’ and from the Latin herba, influenced by the Latin arbor (tree); therefore, garden arbors traditionally supported the growth of fragrant climbers.
Wild and Cultivated Honeysuckle Species
Honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum) grows both in the wild and is cultivated in the garden; in the UK, honeysuckle is a common cottage garden and hedgerow plant. Honeysuckle is of the plant family Caprifoliaceae; it is a deciduous plant which grows up to 20 feet in height. It has pink-yellow flowers and flowers traditionally throughout the summer months.
Honeysuckle the Climber
Honeysuckle will grow up trees and walls, either alone or together with other fragrant plants such as clematis and climbing roses; it will climb up pergolas and the traditional arbor. There are many species of honeysuckle, which flower at different times of the year; Lonicera fragrantissima will flower in winter.
Highly fragrant honeysuckle species include Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) which has cream-white flowers. Honeysuckle has medicinal properties too; an infusion of honeysuckle flowers can be made into a tea for the treatment of coughs and colds. As a culinary herb, the flowers can be added to salads.
Cultivated Clematis Climbers
The Clematis is the common name given to a plant genus of climbing lianas belonging to the Ranunculaceae plant family; there are many species of clematis, some of which are herbaceous perennial plants. Clematis species which are commonly found in gardens are cultivated plants which will climb over walls and pergolas; they make good companion plants for roses.
Clematis ligusticifolia is found growing wild across the western United States in wooded hillsides, coniferous forests (up to 4,000 feet) and by streams; it was referred to as pepper vine by early American settlers to the West, who used it as a substitute for black pepper (piper nigrum), despite its toxicity.
Fragrant Clematis Species
The smaller flowered clematis species are fragrant whereas the larger flowered clematis are not; clematis will flower in different seasons and in many colors. They grow to various heights, some up to 33 feet high. Examples of seasonal, scented clematis include (some clematis species may grow through two seasons) :
Spring flowering clematis – Clematis armandii – Snowdrift (white)
Summer flowering clematis – Clematis x aromatica (violet blue), Clematis recta (cream white)
Fall flowering clematis – Clematis x juiniana (pale blue), Clematis Integrifolia (pale blue), Clematis flammula (white)
Winter flowering clematis – Clematis armandii – Apple blossom (pale pink).