Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Lower South
October, 2000
Regional Report

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Rosemary is a great perennial herb for the lower South. This trailing type is especially attractive spilling over a wall or the sides of a large container.

Herb Season in the South

Herbs are gaining in popularity in our region, and we can grow many different types from around the world. In addition to their many culinary and medicinal benefits, herbs can be beautiful in the flower or vegetable garden.

Herb Sampler

In my garden, I love the red blooms of pineapple sage (as do hummingbirds and several species of beneficial wasps), and this herb can grow into a small bush. On the other extreme, a tidy, ground-hugging carpet of thyme produces a lovely aroma as I walk over it. The burgundy-bronze, billowy foliage of bronze fennel and the yellow fall blooms of Mexican mint marigold are wonderful additions not only to the herb garden, but to the whole landscape.

Fall Planting

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

Some gardeners plant herbs in the traditional geometric-style beds. I prefer something of an eclectic design - herbs mixed with other landscape plants. Either way, an herb garden invites visitors to slow down and stop to smell, as well as see, the garden.

Landscaping with Herbs

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 well as ornamentals. Rosemary makes a great shrub and comes in prostrate forms that are quite decorative spilling over a rock wall. Other trailing herbs such as thyme and oregano also make great cascading plantings.

Herbs are especially well suited to containers. I like to choose decorative containers of various shapes and sizes to create an interesting herbal grouping that turns my porch, patio, or walkway into a beautiful garden spot.

Attract Beneficial Insects

Herbs 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. I always interplant a few selected herbs in my vegetable garden just to attract the predators that will keep many garden pests in check.

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