English Cottage Gardening – Herbs Of The Mint Family

Herbs of the Mint family are a beautiful and useful addition to any cottage garden. They include such favorites as basil, mint, rosemary, sage, savory, marjoram, oregano, hyssop, thyme, lavender, and lemon balm.

Basil flowers

Basil flowers

Sage

Sage

Originally, cottage gardens were grown for household use, not for beauty alone. Herbs were used as medicine, as flavoring for food, and to freshen the air in the damp, musty lodgings.

Rosemary

Rosemary

The concept of a separate herb garden, isolated from other flowering plants, would have been inconceivable to an early cottage gardener. Herbs and vegetables were grown side by side with roses and foxgloves, both of which also had household uses.

Bee on Lavender

Bee on Lavender

As you can see from these pictures, herbs can be as beautiful as purely decorative plantings. They are also very attractive to bees and butterflies.

Thyme

Thyme

I try to incorporate as many as I can into my overall garden design.

New English Garden Bee Plants – “Purrsian Blue” Nepeta

New Nepeta

I love nepeta aka catmint, and this new variety looks like a winner! It’s available from Wayside Gardens.

Bees love catmint, but so do cats. By the end of the summer, all my catmint is cat-shaped in the middle.

According to Wayside Gardens, ‘Purrsian Blue’ is the solution! Apparently, it is “flop-proof”!

Naturally rounded, this fragrant little plant covers itself in bright blue blooms from the first hint of warm summer weather until autumn arrives. The flowers themselves are periwinkle-blue, surrounded by a darker violet calyx. Showy, intensely bright, and so profuse, they really pop in the perennial border or herb garden!

Bees and other pollinators are drawn to ‘Purrsian Blue’ for its nectar, while rabbits, deer, and other nibbling creatures avoid it because of its fragrance. I will definitely be ordering this for my borders!

Covering Old Ground

Not that anyone has asked me, but I thought I would weigh in on my personal choices of ground cover/underplanting.

I am a traditionalist.  I like four plants for covering those awkward spaces under roses, hydrangea and other flowering shrubs.

My number one choice is Nepeta, specifically Walkers’ Low.  I love this plant. It is hearty, beautiful, fragrant and voluminous.  Its only downside is that if you have cats, they like to nap right in the middle of them. It’s also known as catmint.

Nepeta Walkers Low and Pink Roses

My second choice is hosta.  There are so many smaller cultivars these days, and they are  mostly all fabulous.

Hosta Underplanting

My third choice is stachys, or lambs ears.  They add texture and a beautiful grey color that blends with everything.

Lambs Ears Underplanting

My fourth choice is lavender.  It’s a bit hard to get started, but once it gets going, it is just about perfect.

Lavender and Boxwood

And they are all great bee plants!

Destined To Be A Cottage Garden Favorite – Stachys Officinalis ‘Pink Cotton Candy’

A new introduction from the Chicago Botanic Garden, Stachys officinalis ‘Pink Cotton Candy’ is destined to be a cottage garden favorite.

Tall wands of two-toned, light and dark pink blossoms arise above clumps of tidy green leaves. Stachys is a genus of the Mint family, and this variety is not only beautiful but bee-friendly. lt’s also deer and rabbit resistant.