• Pinks (Dianthus spp.). Cheerful traditional flowers in a range of pinks, reds and whites. They are low-growing perennials and some annuals that form tidy mounds in the garden.
• Violets (Viola spp.). To plant near the edges of your garden, choose either the perennial V. odorata or some of the readily available annual pansies or Johnny-jump-ups. They’ll stay under about 6 inches, adding a bright splash of color without obscuring the view.
• Myrtle (Myrtus communis). This evergreen shrub can be clipped to form a formal hedge, or left to grow into a more natural shape to enjoy the numerous small white flowers later in the summer.
• Lovage (Levisticum officinale). This medicinal and culinary herb is a hardy perennial that grows to about 5 feet. It has a celery taste in the stems, leaves and seeds.
• Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea). Enjoy these beautiful vertical spikes of tubular flowers; don’t use it for medicinal purposes, despite its pharmacological history, as it is toxic, even fatal. Foxglove is a tough biennial, flowering in early summer of its second year and reaching 6 feet or more in bloom.
• Globe thistle (Echinops ritro). The silvery-blue, almost metallic-looking flower balls of this plant provide fascinating texture in the garden, but be sure to cut off the stalks to prevent too much self-seeding; at the end of the season, leave one or two to ripen and spread a bit of seed for next year.
• Rose (Rosa spp.). Try a wonderful old shrub rose such as ‘Old Blush’, which is drought-tolerant, hardy and quite carefree.
• Valerian (Valeriana officinalis). This hardy perennial, which can reach 4 to 5 feet at its peak, provides roots still used today as a calming tea at bedtime.
• Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus). This dramatic plant, related to the artichoke, is usually grown as an annual. It can reach 4 to 5 feet with its purple, thistly flowers or eaten as a vegetable before the flowers open.
• Larkspur (Delphinium spp.). These perennial and annual flowers in the buttercup family have tall flower spikes in intense blue-purple and other colors. They’re an old garden favorite, but not to be consumed, as they are toxic.
• Dill (Anethum graveolens). Simple, useful and beautiful, this biennial herb produces umbels of tiny yellow flowers, usually early in its second year. It reaches about 3 feet and is grown for both its foliage and seed.
Kathleen Halloran is a freelance writer and editor living and tending her herbs in beautiful Austin, Texas.
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