Herbs have a great many more uses than those in the culinary world. Some make excellent landscape plants. Rosemary, bay, germander, santolina make excellent permanent plants and are all evergreen in the warmer parts of the country.
Perennial herbs make great garden additions by adding fragrance, foliage texture and flower color. Some of the most beautiful and easiest to grow include the following: artemisia (soft silvery gray foliage in summer), garlic and onion chives (summer flowers of white and lavender), sweet marigold (yellow flowers late summer into fall), mealy blue salvia (blue flowers in summer), Gregg salvia (red, pink or white flowers in the south all summer), yarrow (lovely delicate foliage and yellow, white, pink or red flowers in summer), purple coneflower (beautiful white or purple-pink flowers in summer). Elderberry is a spring flowering herb with berries in late summer and fall.
Some herbs make excellent ground covers. Lamb's ear is a soft-textured, light gray-green herb good for small areas; prostrate rosemary is a very low growing version of the regular rosemary; lanium is a silvery-leafed ground cover good for partially shaded areas; pennyroyal is a tough, low growing evergreen ground cover that is excellent for use between stepping stones; and creeping thyme is not only a durable ground cover but also has flowers in a range of colors from white to lavender. Greek oregano is a good winter hardy ground cover. Gotu kola and gill ivy are also good ground cover herbs.
Some trees are herbs. The most noteworthy is ginkgo. It has interesting, delicate foliage and beautiful yellow fall color.
Herbs can help with insect control and make excellent companion plants for our vegetables and ornamentals. They are great choices for organic gardens - in act anyone who sprays toxic pesticides on herbs is a nut. People like to pinch, small, taste and eat herbs fresh out of the garden. Besides, pests aren't usually a problem. Even if your herbs are only to look at, pesticides shouldn't be used on them. The following are some of my favorite herbs:
Chives (Alium schoeoprasum) grows in clumps and look a bit like thin monkey grass. Onion chives have narrow leaves and lavender flowers. Garlic chives (A. tuberosum) has wider leaves and white flowers.
Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) "The healing herb" has large, fuzzy, 10-inch long leaves, spreads to three feet high by three feet wide and wider and has lovely pink or purple bell shaped flowers which hang gracefully from vertical stems.
Garlic (Allium sativum) The foliage of garlic is dark green and grass-like. The flowers on some species are very interesting as they curve around and finally burst open in the early summer. Elephant garlic, actually a leek, has large round decorative flower balls.
Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) A large growing, graceful shrubby perennial with edible purple-black berries from August through September. Grows to 10 feet in most soils and has lovely white flower clusters in the summer.
Lemongrass (Cybopogon citratus) A grass-like herb that looks like a small scale pampas grass. Its wonderful lemon scent makes it excellent for making tea. If it freezes, which is often in all but tropical areas, just plant new plants each year.
Lemon verbena (Aloysia triphilla) In addition to being one of the most delicious flavoring herbs, lemon verbena is a wonderful addition to the landscape garden as well as the herb garden. It will freeze, so it is best treated as an annual.
Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) Common mullein or old man's flannel is a big wildflower that looks like a large, upright version of lamb's ear. Its flowers are yellow, white or purple depending on the variety.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinnalis) Gray-green shrub that can grow to a height of 4 feet. It freezes in hard winters but is worth replacing every year if necessary. The low-growing ground cover type is Rosemary prostratus.
Yarrow (Achillea millifolium) Lacy, fern-like foliage and is an evergreen perennial in warmer climates. Colorful flowers on tall stalks which bloom in early summer.
Herb culture: Plant in any well drained soil improved with compost and rock dust. Fertilize twice each year with mild organic fertilizer. It's that easy.
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