Fragrant flowers can stop you in your tracks in a spring garden, but be sure to cut a few blooms for the house, too -- they smell even better in a vase on your desk or the kitchen table. Here are some of my favorites:
Peonies (Paeonia selections) bloom profusely in cool Midwestern springs. Their frilly flowers may smell like honey or roses; some gardeners say they have a hint of talcum powder.
Lilacs (Syringa vulgaris) have a heady, long-ago fragrance; they bloom in late April in Kansas City, and if the days are cool the flowers last for weeks. Little Syringa 'Miss Kim' blooms later, on more compact plants.
Clove currant (Ribes odoratum) is covered with tiny, yellow, heavily clove-scented flowers in mid-spring. The foliage, which looks a bit like parsley, turns bright yellow in fall. Give this suckering native shrub room to grow.
Basil and parsley are my favorite fragrant herbs; I plant them among the flowers and pinch hem every time I walk by.