Scented Herbal Groundcovers

| February/March 2010

  • Roman chamomile makes a wonderful lawn substitute.
    Photo by Jerry Pavia
  • Groundcovers like this scented geranium are practical and luxuriously fragrant.
    Photo by Jerry Pavia

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.

Click here for the main article,  5 Reasons to Plant Herbal Groundcovers .

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