Garden Spaces: Grow These Herbs for Dought and Humidity

| October/November 2010

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    Illustration by Gayle Ford

• Rose (Rosa spp.). So many to choose from, and they do well in the South if they have adequate drainage. Go for a big, tough shrub rose or vigorous climber that you can tie onto a trellis. One favorite is ‘Mutabilis’, a china rose (R. chinensis) with blooms that change colors as they age; it can grow to 6 feet or more.

• Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea, E. angustifolia, many varieties and hybrids). This native perennial, an important medicinal herb, is also a garden favorite. Now available in a wide array of colors and growing habits, it reaches 1 to 2 feet and is hardy in much of the United States.

• Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis). What can be a tender, fussy, disease-prone potted plant in the North is a showy landscape plant in mild climates. There are many varieties and hybrids, some upright and some low-growing sprawlers. It has culinary, medicinal and cosmetic uses.

• Bay laurel (Laurus nobilis). This tender perennial is an evergreen tree in warm Southern climates, but elsewhere it is grown in containers and protected during the winter. It is a favorite culinary herb from the Mediterranean.

• Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis). Being a mint family member, this hardy perennial herb can be a bit aggressive in the average garden so is a good candidate for a container. The luscious lemon fragrance makes it great in the kitchen, but it is increasingly noted for its medicinal value.

• Chives (Allium schoenoprasum). A perennial favorite in both the garden and the kitchen, these tidy foot-high clumps of strappy leaves show off bright pink pompon flowers in early spring. Will seed itself around the garden, but not in a troublesome way.

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