Valariana officianalis - magical and heavenly scent

I have always had a special place in my heart for valarian, I always felt it was very underrated, if not completely ignored as a garden plant. It has become more in vogue over the last few years. This is partly due to the emergence of more environmentally thoughtful gardening and possibly because it can be a useful plant in the new perrenial movement / praire style of garden design.
Over the last decade of growing it I have moaned that it should be more popular, now I feel a little put out that it is. Life is a trial...
So, valarian. Firstly this is not to be confused with the plant most commonly called valarian or 'red valarian' (though it comes in white as well). That plant is centranthus, a useful plant that self seeds brilliantly in difficult dry areas of the garden.

Valarian officianalis has lush, mid green pinnate leaves that form a clump and throw up tall stems topped with clusters of palest pink white, star shaped flowers. It will self seed gently through the bed or by a wild pond and quite likes to have dampish feet. It can be useful in tying plants together, creating a natural look and adding a delicate height to a less formal border or wild area.

One of its best attributes though is its gorgeous scent, a soft vanilla fragrance that wafts around the garden. The scent is never strong, even if your nose is being tickled by the flowers, but a breeze can seem to send the gorgeous smell all around the garden in just the same sweet concentration.

Importantly valarian is a native and attracts hoverflies, bees, butterflies and moths and a whole host of other beneficial beasties.

So why grow valarian?

  • A useful plant in the naturalistic border for height
  • soft pink beautiful flowers
  • self seeding
  • sweetly scented
  • native polinator
  • Medicinally used to relieve nervous tension and aid sleep
  • and in magic... it was used in love potions. If worn by a woman, it is said that men would “follow like children.”
surely every garden should have a little.
Genus: Valariana
Species: Officianalis
Common name: Common valarian, all-heal, amongst many others
Origin: Europe
Soil: any soil, prefers well drained
Hardiness: fully hardy
Height: 1.5m
Season: June / July / August
Light: Full sun or partial shade