Brenda Gousha's Top Plant Recommendation: Brenda's Fragrant Favorites in Southern California.
Charles Grimaldi Angels Trumpet - Brugmansia 'Charles Grimaldi'
Small tree or large shrub. Mine is shaped into a very nice understory tree that is about 10'X10'. It grows beneath our big jacaranda. This plant grows from cuttings very easily. Water and feed regularly. The huge flowers are powerfully fragrant, particularly in the early morning and evening. This little tree grows fast, takes some thinning and shaping to get the right shape and density. It sometimes has an unattractive winter appearance. If you live in a cold spot, consider growing this one in a pot, to move to a sheltered place for the winter.
Winter Daphne - Daphne odora 'Aureo-marginata'
Great variagated leathery leaves, nice shape. This little shrub works in a pot or in the ground. It blooms in the winter, usually January. One of the best fragrances. Needs some protection from the hottest part of the day, here in Escondido. Can be fussy about drainage.
A fragrant, spring blooming bulb from Africa. Plant the corms in the Fall. In the summer, after bloom is finished, withhold water. The scent of these flowers is fresh, the essence of spring. It seems like the white flowered freesias smell the best.
Sweetshade - Hymenosporum flavum
This is a tall slender tree that grows slowly into a very graceful, open shape. The yellow flowers smell like orange blossoms. The branching as the tree gets established tends to be weak, so early training is a must. This tree looks great against a two story building, planted in small groves.
Angel-wing Jasmine - Jasminum nitidum
I like to use this plant as a ground cover, near the house or patio. Prune, (don't shear) this plant to control height. The white, pinwheel shaped flowers are very fragrant. This plant likes a long, warm growing season to bloom well.
Chilean Jasmine - Mandevilla laxa
It is both unusual and easily managed, so I think it would be valuable for San Diego Gardeners. It is very hard to find the fragrant version, but it's worth it.
Champaca - Michelia champaca
Interesting, fastigate shape. Stays smallish; long and lean. Leaves are limey green and shaped like an avocado leaf. Blooms are creamy orange in color, not very conspicuous, but smell heavenly. Works well in a small garden or narrow space.
Looks like a dainty, smaller magnolia (and is, in fact, related). Completely covered in big white flowers in the spring. Smells terrific. Pretty shape, well behaved, no pests. Definitely underused. The best one I have seen is at the Huntington gardens.
Victorian Box - Pittosporum undulatum
We have a really mature, huge tree in our backyard and when it blooms in late winter, early spring, the fragrance is simply the best. The fragrance seems to be keyed to temperature, so it smells most strongly in the evenings or mornings and perfumes the entire yard, even into the house.
Star Jasmine - Trachelospermum jasminoides
Another common plant that works well as a climber or a ground cover. Smells great in the late spring. We like to use it to hide unattractive fences. No diseases or pests to speak of.