Mother Earth Living

Garden Spaces: Plants for a Fragrant, Bird- and Bee-Friendly Garden

By Kathleen Halloran
December/January 2009
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Illustration by Gayle Ford
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Deodar cedar (Cedrus deodara). This large, drooping conifer is a graceful backdrop for gardens in warm Southern regions. It is generally hardy to about Zone 8, but breeding has extended the range in some cultivars.

Rose (Rosa spp.). Hardy old roses such as the apothecary rose and newer varieties such as ‘Knockout’ form large shrubs in the landscape and produce their fragrant flowers abundantly. They can be surprisingly drought-tolerant and carefree.

Lavender (Lavandula spp.). An aromatherapy classic, this perennial flower is tough and drought-resistant once established, and will appreciate the good drainage offered by your slope.  

Basil (Ocimum basilicum). Tuck a few of these tender, fragrant plants into your garden and the bees will come. Use both green- and purple-leafed varieties.

Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa). Draw in the bees and butterflies with this trouble-free hardy perennial native. It has bright orange flowers.

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris). This creeping perennial groundcover is a favorite of bees. It comes in many forms and can naturalize.

Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium). Hardy and cheerful, this perennial has white, daisy-like flowers and grows 2 to 3 feet tall, with dwarf varieties available as well.

Sunflower (Helianthus annuus). Tall annuals for the back of the garden, the ray flowers come in a wide variety of bright, even gaudy colors.

Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens). This evergreen shrub can be heavily pruned to form a tidy border to front or frame your garden bed.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis). This fragrant perennial herb must be brought indoors for the winter in colder climates, but it will survive just fine outside in your Zone 8 garden.

Oregano (Origanum spp.). These fragrant herbs are low-growing summer bloomers, almost as useful in the landscape as in the kitchen.

St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum). This carefree hardy perennial has golden-yellow flowers and shiny, dark green leaves. It blooms in late spring to early summer.

Pineapple sage (Salvia elegans). A favorite of hummingbirds, this tender red-flowered sage will grow tall and impressive in your climate by season’s end, then die back to the ground after the frost.

Yarrow (Achillea spp.). Perennial and dependable, the flat flowers of native yarrow are available in various colors, including soft yellow.

Rue (Ruta graveolens). This small perennial shrub has pretty yellow flowers and silvery foliage. Some people experience an allergic reaction if they brush against its leaves, however; keep it away from the bench and pathway.

Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia). The soft blue-purple blossoms and finely cut silvery leaves of perennial Russian sage add a lovely, airy look. This hardy perennial plant is drought- and heat-tolerant, and a beautiful foil for the larger, more substantial flowers nearby.

Italian cypress (Cupressus sempervirens). The tree you’ve chosen to frame the entrance to your garden is a fast-growing evergreen. It normally grows tall and narrow, like an exclamation point in the landscape, but can be tied and trained to form a green arch.

Kathleen Halloran is a freelance writer and editor living in Austin, Texas.

For the entire article, Garden Spaces: Shaping Up a "Scattered" Garden, click here.


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