The Fragrant Garden was created to perfume the air and create an aromatic experience for our visitors. Located next to our Healing Garden, it is also an ideal spot for night time visits as many of the plants give off their scents in the evenings. A new boardwalk was developed and is beautifully lit at night to enhance visitors’ experience at the Fragrant Garden.
The sign at the Fragrant Garden incorporates the design of the Tembusu tree flower. The flowers from this commonly-seen native tree are sweetly fragrant in the evening.
The Fragrant Garden showcases many species of plants that have evolved to emit fragrances. The blooms attract butterflies and visitors will be able to spot these and other insects fluttering amongst the plants in the day.
These fragrant species were cultivated widely for thousands of years across various cultures for their sweet smelling scents, and their uses have extended to rituals, religious ceremonies, traditional medicine, aromatherapy and the mega-industry of traditional and modern perfumery.
Why are flowers fragrant?
Fragrance as we humans know it, are pleasant smelling volatile chemical vapours exuded by various plant parts. These vapours are detected by our olfactory glands and interpreted by the brain as pleasant. The scents act as advertisement for insects to pollinate the flowers, with rewards of nectar, pollen and in some cases, with no rewards at all. Some scents also mimic pheromones of female insects to attract males while pungent scents help warn animals not to get too close to the plants.
As such, we may perceive those scents as pleasant, unpleasant or may not even smell it, while other animals such as insects, would interact with the scents for specific functions such as pollination.We humans on the other hand, favour fragrant scents only to mask unpleasant scents (including body odour), or to make ourselves feel good!
Which parts of plants are fragrant?
The source of fragrance in plants depends on the species. Some plants' flowers produce scent in specialised glands to attract potential insect pollinators. Scents aren't only emitted from the open flowers of plants, many plants produce smells from other areas too, such as the aromatic oils in their foliage, only to be released if bruised or crushed. Strongly-scented cloves are unopened flower buds, while nutmeg, mace, mustard, chillies, cardamom, cumin and pepper are simply scented seeds. Pandan, mint, sage, thyme, oregano, rosemary, basil and lemon balm have scented leaves, which we often use in cooking. Scents are taken from plants mainly as essential oils, which are then used to make perfume.