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BONNIE'S GARDEN--Herbs--Not Just for Cooking Anymore

Everybody is familiar with those culinary “big-guns”—parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme (hey, they ought to put that into a song…), chives, basil, dill.  There are some other very interesting things you can find in the herb section that may be edible or have “medicinal” purposes but aren’t necessarily for cooking—and some that are just too pretty to eat. 

Germander (Teucrium)—Germander is a perennial grown for the pretty glossy dark green foliage as well as bee and butterfly attractive violet flowers. The foliage has a clean aromatic fragrance and is not particularly attractive to deer.

Rue (Ruta graveolens)—Rue has profuse lacy blue-green foliage topped with bright yellow flowers.  It’s a host plant for certain butterflies—particularly black swallowtails.  Deer resistant and perennial.

Agastache—Agastache, a mint relative, is a robust perennial grown for it’s large fluffy bee and butterfly attractive flowers.  Deer resistant.

Catmint (Nepeta)—Another perennial mint relative, is often grown because cats like the fragrance—much like catnip—however it’s main attraction is its sprays of lavender, blue or white flowers.  It’s attractive to bees and butterflies, but deer tend to leave it alone.

Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans)—The foliage smells deliciously like fresh-cut pineapple and the late summer flowers are a profusion of bright-red trumpets—very attractive to hummingbirds.  Even though it is edible, it’s just too pretty to eat.  Not winter-hardy here.

Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)—It’s pretty silver leaves are almost eclipsed by a profusion of lavender/blue flowers spikes.  Again, deer resistant, butterfly attractive and perennial.

Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)—Even though it can be used medicinally, it’s worth growing for the long-lasting daisy-like flowers alone.  A deer-resistant perennial.

Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha)—A sturdy plant covered with velvety purple flowers late-summer into fall. Very attractive to bees and butterflies, but deer tend to avoid it.  Not winter-hardy here.

Bee Balm (Monarda) is a mint family member grown for fluffy showy flower heads that are bee, butterfly and hummingbird attractive.  A deer-resistant perennial, give this very robust grower plenty of elbow room.

Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla)—a pretty low-growing perennial herb with fan-shaped scalloped leaves with clusters of small yellow flowers in summer.  A pretty border plant for part-shade.

Most all of these herbs are sturdy, durable plants that prefer moist, but well-draining soil and full sun.  Me, well, I like all of these—because they fit well in my bee, butterfly, and hummingbird attractive yard.  I especially love Pineapple Sage—the fragrance makes me long for fruit salad and the flowers are usually the cause of a traffic jam of hummingbirds fighting to get there first.  I plant Bee Balm around my vegetable garden—not only does it help deter munching critters, but it attracts bees to pollinate my cucumbers and melons.  I love Catmint, but so does Tiger—my neighbor’s cat who likes to nap in it, so I tend towards agastache instead.  Rue is a good plant to tuck any stray caterpillars on because they’ll usually stay there and it’s a robust enough grower not to mind an occasional stem munched down to nubs.  

Posted: 6/16/2014 by Bonnie Pega | with 0 comment(s)
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