1. Ross, Stephanie Maxine MH, HT, CNC

Article Content


For thousands of years, the medicinal properties of herbs and aromatic plants have played a vital role in the history of humankind. Historical records indicate that the first scented gardens were planted over 2500 years ago within the enclosed courtyards of Persian palaces. These gardens were constructed primarily to provide a spiritual sanctuary. Persians were taught from an early age that it was mankind's duty to conserve and honor nature as part of the divine creation, and these sacred gardens were looked upon as a means of recreating and experiencing heaven on earth.


For much of the ancient world, including Egypt, Greece, and Rome, scent was held in such high regard that it was virtually seen as vital to life as food and water. Of all the ancient civilizations, it is the Egyptians who were renowned for their knowledge and expertise on aromatic plants, especially regarding their medicinal, cosmetic, and ritual applications. Since natural aromatic preparations were considered an intrinsic part of everyday life, they cultivated aromatic plants, herbs, and spices on the fertile banks of the Nile, in order to provide fresh flowers and other plant material for their daily needs.


The Egyptians' love for nature is clearly evident from the extensive botanical carvings in their temples. The Egyptian priests also placed great importance on gardens as a place of contemplation. In addition, these temple gardens functioned as the repository for known medicinal herbs and aromatic plants, forming the earliest known "botanic garden."



As we have seen, the very concept of creating a Garden of Serenity, by using the soothing scents of aromatic plants, is deeply rooted in ancient history. Even though the aromatic gardens of the ancients were often elaborate, with imagination and determination, a small garden space or even attractive ceramic containers filled with soothing aromatic plants can still provide a calming and uplifting experience, a tranquil retreat from everyday concerns. The following aromatic plant species have been carefully selected for creating the modern aromatic garden, a "Garden of Serenity"!!



German chamomile (Matricaria recutita)

Scent: Sweet, apple-like aroma, relaxing, and profoundly soothing.


Botanical description

Chamomile enjoys a rich history of use, which transcends both reality and imagination. References to this aromatic healing plant abound in the medicinal writings of ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman civilizations. The name itself is derived from the Greek words chamos (ground) and melos (apple), referring to its low-growing habit and the warm apple scent of its daisy-like blossoms.


Emotional qualities

In the language of flowers, chamomile is symbol of "patience in adversity," because of its delicate floral structure but hardy, tenacious nature. During the Victorian period, it was used as an herbal tea in the treatment of hysteria and nervous afflictions of all types, especially in children and women. Even today, throughout Europe, chamomile continues to hold an esteemed position as an aromatic plant. In a tea form, chamomile is widely used as a mild sedative, for calming emotional upset and bringing about a restful night's sleep.


Honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum)

Scent: Honeysweet, floral, uplifting, and refreshing.


Botanical description

One only needs to recall sipping the sweet nectar from honeysuckle blossoms on those lazy, warm summer days of youth to realize how this aromatic vine acquired its name. Often growing in the wild, the pervasive and evocative aroma of honeysuckle can transform its surroundings into a garden of floral enchantment. The common honeysuckle is a deciduous climbing plant that reaches up to 20 ft high, bearing clusters of pinkish-yellow flowers that resemble tiny trumpets. Its hardy nature lends itself to most soils, although it likes to be shaded at the base.


Emotional qualities

The sweet floral bouquet of honeysuckle is uplifting, as well as refreshing, and adds charm to any naturalistic landscape.


Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

Scent: Sweet, floral-herbaceous, calming, and relaxing.


Botanical description

Lavender is a fragrant aromatic herb that has been used for thousands of years; it remains a classical and vital ingredient in any aromatic garden. Its hazy bluish-purple flowers are arranged on floral spikes, located at the ends of fine stems. Lavandula angustifolia, which is commonly known as true lavender, is a hardy, evergreen, and woody plant that grows best in full sun and well-drained soil.


Emotional qualities

This fragrant aromatic herb has been used since antiquity for evoking relaxation, dispelling anxiety, and increasing well-being. It has a long history of use as a nerve tonic, with a strengthening yet soothing effect. In aromatherapy, 5 to 7 drops of lavender essential oil when added to a warm evening bath will help to sooth the mind, body, and spirit into a deep restful sleep. To encourage relaxation during the day, place a few drops of lavender essence onto a tissue and gently inhale.


Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)

Scent: Fresh and herbaceous, distinctly lemony, refreshing, and uplifting.


Botanical description

Melissa officinalis is a tender growing perennial that stands upright to 3 ft in height. This aromatic herb is delightfully scented, with lemony-fresh white or pink flowers. Native to Europe and to Mediterranean countries, this hardy herb will grow well in almost any soil or light condition, although it prefers a light shady environment. Lemon balm is a gardener's herbal favorite due to its appealing scent and steadfast nature.


Emotional qualities

Lemon balm has a long history of medicinal use. Dioscorides considered it a potent sedative and prescribed it for nervous disorders, the emotions, and the heart. Avicenna, the 11th-century Persian physician, recommended Melissa for making the heart and mind merry. In aromatherapy, the extracted essential oil is used primarily for nervous disorders, including anxiety, hypertension, neurasthenia, and depressive illness. For aromatherapy applications, add up to 4 drops of Lemon balm essential oil to a warm bath and inhale the delicate citrus aroma. The therapeutic effect is good for exhaustion, insomnia, nervous tension, and stress.


Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)

Scent: Deliciously sweet and floral, heartwarming, and strengthening.


Botanical description

Convallaria majalis is a small perennial that reaches only 9 to 12 in tall and is commonly found in the shaded woodlawn. It is characterized by an extensive underground network of rhizome roots that enjoy rich, moist soil that is well drained.


Emotional qualities

It is not surprising that the Lily of the Valley symbolizes the "return of happiness," for it is the sweetest flower imaginable. With its delicate white floral bells that curve upward at the tips, and unmistakable green herbaceous scent, it is said to lure the nightingale from his nest and lead him to his mate. It is the symbol of May Day and was historically known as the May Lily.


Essential oil applications

Since every part of the plant is toxic, the essential oil is not used in aromatherapy. Today, although perfumes and toilet waters are sold as bearing the true essence of Lily of the Valley, they are mere synthetic derivatives of the actual plant.


Hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis)

Scent: Sweet, floral, balsamic, soothing, and uplifting.


Botanical description

Hyacinth is a native to Asia Minor and is cultivated in the Netherlands and Southern France. This powerfully perfumed plant produces spires of bell-shaped flowers on a shortened stem, which centrally emerges, surrounded by bright lance-shaped leaves, rooted tenaciously by an expanded bulb.


Emotional qualities

The ancient Greeks described the fragrance of hyacinth as being both invigorating and refreshing to a tired mind.


Rose (Rosa damascena)

Scent: Sweet-floral, slightly spicy, soothing, and uplifting.


Botanical description

Throughout history, roses have been the subject of art, poetry, literature, medicine, and love. The rose has been called the "Queen of the Flowers," due to its beauty in form and the allure of its scent. Of the estimated 5000 or more species of rose, Rosa damascena is one of the most fragrant and is used in the production of essential oils.


Emotional qualities

The aroma of Rosa damascena helps to support and soothe the emotions. It is known to ease anxiety and panic, elevate the spirit, and reduce stress and tension. In aromatherapy it is used to calm the nerves and helps overcome hyperactivity and insomnia. The sweet-floral aroma of rose has been used historically to help ease grief and subdue sadness and to inspire creativity and activate intuition.


Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Scent: Fresh, pine-like and woody, purifying, and restorative.


Botanical description

Rosmarinus officinalis is a small evergreen bush with silvery-green, needle-shaped leaves. Rosemary is native to the Mediterranean region but is cultivated worldwide.


Emotional qualities

In ancient times, Rosemary was a highly esteemed aromatic plant by both East and West. The early Egyptians used it as a ritual cleansing incense for burials, while the Greeks and Romans viewed it as a sacred plant, symbolizing both love and death. In the West, Rosemary has been historically associated with the qualities of faithfulness and friendship, as Shakespeare noted: "There's rosemary, that's for remembrance." In aromatherapy, rosemary essential oil is used as a tonic for the nerves. It is a very effective nerve stimulant. It has a refreshing, invigorating scent, which has a reviving, uplifting effect on the spirit.


Sweet violet (Viola odorata)

Scent: Sweet and flora, uplifting, and soothing.


Botanical description

Viola odorata is a tender perennial with heart-shaped leaves, and sweetly scented violet-blue flowers, and with an extensive rhizome (underground stem) root system. It is native to Europe and parts of Asia and cultivated in gardens throughout the world. This plant thrives best in rich, moist soil in a semi-shaded environment. Easily propagated through root cuttings, this small plant spreads rapidly, forming a sweetly scented carpet.


Emotional qualities

The flowers have a calming, sedative effect, which has been used for nervous exhaustion and insomnia.