Decorative Herbs
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: No Name Given
Posted on: January 29, 2001

I want to start a garden of decorative herbs. Could you give me a list of herbs that I could start out with?

There are many herbs that can be effective as ornamentals in the garden. Some of the more outstanding flowering herbs are echinacea, bergamot, clove-pink, heartsease, lavender, calendula and citrus marigold.

Beyond the flowering herbs, there are many herbs with interesting leaf colours or textures that can be very striking. The silvery herbs such as wormwood, silver thyme, and woolly lambs ears are very attractive when positioned near contrasting purple-leaved herbs such as the lacy bronze fennel or the deep bronze ground carpeting herb, bronze bugle. Even some of the creeping thymes can give an impressive show of textured and contoured foliage punctuated by showy masses of pink, red or white flowers.

Three excellent books with lots of ideas for decorative herb plantings are (all available from Richters):

1. "Herbs in Bloom: A Guide to Growing Herbs as Oranmental Herbs" by Jo Ann Gardner;

2. "Herbs in the Garden: Art of Intermingling" by Rob Proctor and David Macke; and

3. Jim Wilson’s "Landscaping with Herbs".

Perhaps it is worth remembering that it is easy to add colour to the garden with flowering plants, but it takes more care and artistry to make the garden pleasing to look at. Just throwing masses of colour at the eyes does not do nearly as much as a beautifully thought out placement of texture, hues and contrasts. Even the most mundane of plants can be remarkably effective as ornamentals in the right situation. The three books listed above will help you to develop an eye for what herbs can do for your garden.

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