Today’s post is on three unusual herbs which we think can add colour to your garden and still be used for medicinal purposes.

Nepeta mussinii – (Catmint)

This old fashioned English country garden plant will really add a burst of colour to your garden with soft grey-green foliage and a profusion of spikes of mauve flowers. It is perennial but if you are in a colder climate it might die back slightly in winter and then come back in spring again. It has a height of 30cm and a width of about 60cm plus-minus, making it an excellent border plant. This is a plant that is quite commonly planted with roses. It requires full sun or half day good sunlight and a very well-drained soil so avoid planting it in clay. It does require some pruning and can bloom so heavily that the centre sometimes falls open so this is when it should be pruned back slightly. Another benefit of this plant is that it multiplies quite quickly so it can actually be divided and planted out in spring which means you will get more plants. The leaves act as a tonic for cats and they will eat some of it, but it is not as attractive to them as the catnip variety is. Please note that catnip is not as floral. Bees love the flowers, you can make use of the leaves in teas and salads and the flowers for garnishing foods. The plant is meant to have a calming effect on a person and should be used if you lead a very stressful lifestyle.

Nepeta mussinii – (Catmint)

Monarda didyma – Bergamot.

This gorgeous perennial shrub which grows about 80cm high and gets masses of tubular pink-red flowers in summer. These flowers attract bees as well as small sunbirds. Depending on the climate there may be some die back in winter so this is when a good pruning would be beneficial to the plant’s health. A tea made from the leaves aids digestion, relieves flatulence and nausea and helps overcome insomnia. It prefers full sun or half a day of good sun, a well-drained soil which is enriched with compost and plenty of water. This plant can be quite difficult to find but it is well worth it.

Monarda didyma – Bergamot

Salvia elegans

Pineapple sage. This hardy water-wise perennial shrub will grow about 1m high sometimes taller. It is called pineapple sage because the leaves have a pineapple scent when rubbed and crushed. In summer it creates quite a wow factor with a profusion of tubular, scarlet-red flowers that attract birds and butterflies, as well as humans. It prefers growing in full sun, well-drained soil and requires fairly good watering when it is young and establishing but can be watered less once more established. It can be grown as a single specimen, hedge or even as a pot plant. Keep it in shape as it can get quite straggly, by trimming lightly in spring or after flowering. Please note that you should not be cutting into old wood which means that you need to maintain it properly and cannot just cut it back harshly after a long time.

Salvia elegans