When asked about an herb garden most people have visions of green mounds–some darker or lighter but all part of a sea of green boredom. But there are the herbal show-offs. These are the ones so colorful and profuse in their blooms that they’re often found in ornamental flower beds. No matter where you live in Texas you can select from these five splendid herbs to provide welcome bursts of color.
This tender perennial sage provides a slow growing velvet green mound of leaves throughout summer. Pineapple sage (Salvia elegans) reaches three feet in full to partial shade but must be watered more frequently than other herbs. In late fall it is crowned by scarlet show-stopping tubular flowers that are favorites of bees and butterflies. Both the flowers and leaves of this herb are edible. The leaves have a slightly fruity flavor and are sometimes used in herbal teas.
Calendulas (Calendula officinalis) are a cheerful addition to any garden, herbal or otherwise. This long-season bushy annual produces blossoms shaped somewhere between a daisy and a chrysanthemum in shades from cream, to apricot, to reddish gold. With regular watering and fertilizer you should enjoy calendula blooms through much of the growing season.
If you want blooms without bother, yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is the one for you. The flower stalks reliably appear in late summer, rising 2-3 feet with an umbel of flowers. Yarrow has finely cut–almost feathery–deep green leaves that grow densely and remain through the winter. You can find varieties of yarrow to fit any garden color scheme, from the traditional white yarrow breeders have created yarrow in shades from pale pink to deep red. Like most herbs, yarrow is happiest with moist well-drained soil with full sun.
Texas tarragon (Tagetes lucida), also called Mexican Mint Marigold, is an herb native to Texas and Mexico. Texas tarragon is a hardy perennial that works well as a sub-shrub in ornamental gardens. Plant in full sun to shade. Its sturdy branches reach 2-3 feet in most regions and are topped with tight clusters of bright yellow marigold-like flowers in late fall. After the blooms drop, cut the stalks down to the ground in preparation for next year’s growth.
Copper Canyon Daisy
Copper Canyon daisy (Tagetes lemmonii), sometimes known as Mt. Lemmon marigold, is a lacy-leafed perennial shrub that has a distinct lemon aroma with camphor undertones when brushed. Like its cousin Texas tarragon, it produces bright yellow flowers in late fall, but they are not as tightly clustered and look more like daisies sprinkled on a field of green lace. Plant it in light, well-drained soil where it will get at least four hours of direct sun. Prune down to about four inches in late fall after the blooms begin to fade.