by High Country Gardens

Rosemary 'Arp'
Rosemary 'Arp'

Herbs are a big group of plants with the two largest groups being medicinal and culinary. Many of these herbs are Old World plants from the Mediterranean regions of Europe and North Africa. These wonderful plants have attached themselves to humanity and been grown for hundreds, if not thousands of years, for their essential oils.

I use these multi-purpose perennials in my waterwise plantings for their aromatic foliage and flowers  (on the plants and in my food) and for their love of hot, sunny and dry planting sites.   They are also indispensible to pollinators like bees and butterflies for their nectar and pollen rich flowers. Your bee-keeper friends will love you for planting big patches of these plants. My favorite herbal genera include the Lavenders (Lavandula), the Sages (Salvia), Catmints (Nepeta), Oregano (Origanum) and Rosemary (Rosmarinus).

Lavender is at the top of my list. I keep my lavender plantings in bloom by planting a mix of late-spring/early-summer blooming English varieties (Lavandula angustifolia) and summer blooming French hybrids (Lavandula  intermedia).  And if you plant re-blooming English types, like ‘Sharon Roberts’, ‘Pastor’s Pride’and ‘Buena Vista', you can stretch the flowers into September! For cold hardiness, the best of all the Lavender varieties is the heirloom variety ‘Vera.’,

Little Leaf Culinary Sage (Salvia officinalis 'Minimus') is another favorite that is often overlooked by gardeners. I love this durable perennial for its profuse display of deep lavender-blue late spring flowers and its beautifully fine-textured, gray leaves that look great all season long. Plant it alongside the brilliant deep green Rosemary ‘Arp’, one of the most cold hardy cultivars of this fragrant perennial. The ornamental Oregano (Origanum) are unfamiliar to many gardeners. Rectify this oversight by planting ‘Rotkugel Ornamental Oregano’, a superb grower with large, loose heads of bi-color flowers with dark purple calyces and deep pink flowers. The plant forms low-spreading mats that bloom from August through October.

Little Leaf Culinary Sage
Little Leaf Culinary Sage

These glorious herbs are most at home in USDA zone 5 to 10 areas of the western US where the arid climates and ample sunshine are most like their native lands. In areas of the country where there is more precipitation (more than 18-20 inches of water annually) and high summer humidity, the key to growing these perennials is to provide them with a fast draining soil and plenty of air circulation.  Air circulation is improved by planting them with space between neighboring plants and in beds not enclosed by solid fences and walls. Fast drainage is best accomplished by planting in sandy or gravelly soils and/or on a south- or west-facing slope or in a raised bed. Mulching to a depth of 2 inches with crushed gravel helps to keep the crown dry and prevents water splashing onto the foliage.

  1. Bee Bonanza Ornamental Oregano Collection

    Our Bee Bonanza Bonanza Ornamental Oregano Collection will fill your garden with easy-care, fragrant, pollinator-favorite flowers. Our bee-friendly collection features three of our f...

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    Bee Bonanza Ornamental Oregano Collection Bee Bonanza Ornamental Oregano Collection
    Sale Price I Save 5%
    $79.41 Sale $75.44
    Per Collection of 9
    Our Bee Bonanza Bonanza Ornamental Oregano Collection will fill your garden with easy-care, fragrant, pollinator-favorite flowers. Our bee-friendly collection features three of our favorite varieties, ranging from draping to upright, with flower clusters large and small in rose, pink, and magenta. Blooms in gardens or containers all summer and well into fall. Collection of 9 plants.
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  2. Thanksgiving Ornamental Oregano, Oreganum x 'Erntedank', close up of lilac-pink flowers

    Thanksgiving Ornamental Oregano (Origanum x 'Erntedank') is a stunningly colorful ornamental oregano. Adaptable and easy-to-grow, its round, blue-green foliage has a light herbal sce...

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    Thanksgiving Ornamental Oregano Thanksgiving Ornamental Oregano Origanum x Erntedank
    Sale Price I Save 5%
    $8.99 Sale $8.54
    Per Plant - 2.5" Pot
    Thanksgiving Ornamental Oregano (Origanum x 'Erntedank') is a stunningly colorful ornamental oregano. Adaptable and easy-to-grow, its round, blue-green foliage has a light herbal scent, and when it blooms it is covered with sweetly fragrant flowers of lilac-pink. Native bees and honeybees love the nectar and are always to be seen pollinating the flowers. Despite a delicate appearance, this is a tough, reliable perennial.
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  3. Blue Hyssopus officinalis ssp. aristadus, Hyssopus officinalis ssp. aristadus, Hyssop

    Blue Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis ssp. aristadus) is one of the very best Old World plants for attracting and feeding bees and bumble bees. A medicinal herb, its aromatic foliage, an...

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    Blue Hyssop (Hyssopus) Blue Hyssop Hyssopus officinalis ssp. aristadus
    As low as $10.99 Sale $10.44
    Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
    Blue Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis ssp. aristadus) is one of the very best Old World plants for attracting and feeding bees and bumble bees. A medicinal herb, its aromatic foliage, and bright blue flowers are a highlight of the mid-summer garden. Drought resistant/drought tolerant plant (xeric).
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  4. Blue Rosmarinus officinalis Arp, Rosmarinus officinalis Arp, Arp Rosemary

    Arp Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis Arp) is a very cold hardy shrub Rosemary. It has a stiff upright growth habit and a mid-spring display of light blue flowers. Released by the Nat...

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    Arp Rosemary Arp Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis Arp
    Sale Price I Save 5%
    $9.99 Sale $9.49
    Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
    Arp Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis Arp) is a very cold hardy shrub Rosemary. It has a stiff upright growth habit and a mid-spring display of light blue flowers. Released by the National Arboretum. Drought resistant/drought tolerant plant (xeric). 36" tall x 36" wide.
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