In the Garden:
Lower South
October, 2013
Regional Report

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Mexican mint marigold doubles as a culinary herb with licorice-scented foliage, and a beautiful fall-blooming ornamental. Bay shrubs frame the entrance to this kitchen garden.

Plant an Herb Garden

Herbs are wonderful plants with a lot to offer our gardens and landscapes. Here in the South, we can grow many wonderful herbs. In addition to their many culinary (and medicinal) benefits, herbs can be absolutely beautiful.

The red blooms of pineapple sage attract hummingbirds and several species of beneficial wasps. A tidy ground-hugging carpet of thyme; the burgundy/bronze, billowy foliage of bronze fennel; and the yellow fall blooms of Mexican mint marigold are a wonderful addition to our landscape.

Fall is prime planting season for many types of herbs. Perennial herbs planted now will have a head start when warm weather returns next spring and summer. Annual herbs can be grown in a bright windowsill or sunroom for ornamental and culinary use over the winter season.

Making a Place for Herbs in the Landscape
If you don't have space for a formal herb garden, there are still many ways to include herbs in your landscape plan. Many herbs work very well as ornamentals. Rosemary makes a great shrub, and the prostrate forms are quite decorative spilling over a rock wall. Other trailing herbs like thyme and oregano also make great spillover plantings.

Some herbs are great specimen plants. Used as a backdrop for lower plants, the wispy foliage of bronze fennel with its dark purplish color makes a dramatic impact in the landscape. Mexican mint marigold is another specimen herb. With the arrival of fall its green foliage bursts forth with a spray of yellow blooms, making it a focal point in the garden. Many are especially well suited to containers. This increases their versatility.

Benefit the Beneficials
Herbs offer another benefit not often mentioned in articles promoting their use. They can be quite attractive to beneficial insects. Look closely at the tiny bloom stalks of thyme or cilantro, the daisy-like blossoms of chamomile, or the umbrella bloom clusters of fennel, tansy, or dill, and you'll notice a host of beneficial insects stopping in for a meal of pollen. Tiny parasitic and predatory wasp species, hover flies, and predatory bugs love these plants. Try interplanting some in your gardens to attract the "good guys" that help with pest control.

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