If you adore gardens filled with scent, keep an eye out for these seven herbal groundcovers. These herbs live up to their multitasking reputations; practical, beautiful, aromatic.
• Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile and cultivars). 12 inches tall and wide; Zones 4-9; enjoys full sun or semi-shade; fruity, green-apple fragrance; summer blooms of daisy-like flowers; and light green, fern-like foliage. Roman chamomile makes a wonderful lawn substitute.
• Sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum). 8 inches tall and spreads indefinitely; Zones 5-8; sweet woodruff is nice under trees as it prefers shady areas; smells of freshly mown hay when crushed.
• Corsican mint (Mentha requienii). 1/2 inch tall and spreads indefinitely; Zones 6-9; prefers sun but takes shade nicely. When leaves are bruised, Corsican mint has a sage/minty scent. It’s often used between pavers or stepping stones.
• Scented geraniums (Pelargonium spp.). These grow from 1 to 3 feet tall; Zones 7-11. An amazing variety of scents are available, such as lime, almond, apricot, peppermint, cinnamon, chocolate-mint, coconut and apple.
• Prostrate rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Prostratus’). 6 to 12 inches tall and 18 inches wide; Zones 7-10; honest and reliable; robust pine scent. Rosemary is a sun-worshipper and also is drought-tolerant.
• Lemon thyme (T. ×citriodorus ‘Aureus’). 6 to 8 inches tall and wide; Zones 6-9; golden leaves with summer flowers of soft lilac; strong lemon scent. Thymes love sunny areas but will tolerate some shade.
• Sweet violet (Viola odorata). 6 to 12 inches tall and wide; Zones 8-9; sweet scent; violet or white flowers. Prefers shade but will tolerate full sun in cooler areas. For a nice spring display, shear the leggy growth in the fall.
Chris McLaughlin’s book on composting, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Composting (Alpha/Penguin, 2010), will be published in April.
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