In the Garden City, your olfactory senses are ripe with opportunity for floral and fruity whiffs. I mean, we have how many farmers’ markets every weekend?!

It turns out, strengthening those nostrils could also strengthen your memory.

A recent study from the University of California, Irvine shows that people who were exposed to essential oils each night saw a 226% improvement in “both cognitive and neural functioning.”

The oils came as vapor from essential oil diffusers. According to Montana Public Radio, researchers tested with smells such as rose, orange, lavender, eucalyptus, rosemary, and more.

If you can’t get ahold of any goods from your neighbor’s garden, there are still places around Missoula you can go to use your nose.

Big Sky Lavender Farms

Just about 20 minutes south of Missoula are beautiful fields of purple. These fields also smell amazing.

Lavender is one of the scents used to test memory. It is also said to help improve sleep patterns. To really immerse yourself in lavender, you can practice yoga in the fields through September!


You can purchase products from these local farmers all over Missoula, at places like Orange Street Food Farm and Missoula Pharmacy. They also sell dry lavender at the farmers’ market.

Mount Sentinel

At the base of this mountain is the University of Montana. Going up the mountain is the famous ‘M’ trail. Mount Sentinel, however, is also home to the non-native apple mint.

Credit: Kai Williams
Credit: Kai Williams

Though its purple flowers look a bit like lavender, the smell is not as calming and sweet. Apple mint is cool, but once it starts growing, it’s hard to stop it.

This mint can be found growing around the university and near the trailhead up the old fire road. Take a whiff on your next hike or collect some leaves for a minty tea.

Memorial Rose Garden

A walk through this garden could be sweeter than remembering the walk itself. While the flowers bloom most in June, you can still take a stroll through the Memorial Rose Garden off Brooks Street.

There are 650 rose bushes around the garden so far, according to the City of Missoula’s website. There is also a plaque remembering the names of those who died in World War II.

Caras Nursery

This would be a one-stop shop for all your floral smell needs. The study on memory and smell tested with rosemary, which is one of my favorite herbs (I make a mean garlic rosemary bread).

My rosemary, sage, and other herbal needs typically come from Caras on 3rd Street. On sunny days, I don’t mind walking through all the plants, even though there are very few I can seem to keep alive.

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