Many of the plants commonly grown as herbs in the herb garden are equally worthy of being grown for their ornamental value in the flower garden. By definition, an herb is a useful plant, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be pretty as well!
With a little experimentation, you may find that your flower garden can easily include many beautiful herbs. And once you learn about herbs, you may be surprised by just how many of our garden flowers were once considered to be herbs!
Here are some beautiful flowering herbs to get you started considering growing some herbs in your flower garden.
Borage (Borago officinalis)
Borage is a lusty grower, popular in herb gardens for its floriferous show and ability to regrow after being cut back. This self seeding herb is worthy of the informal flower garden, especially if you have a large space to fill and enjoy blue flowers.
Carnations and Pinks (Dianthus)
Dianthus, including favorite cottage garden plants such as carnations, pinks and sweet William, has age old medicinal uses as herbs. Today, these are primarily grown in flower gardens.
Echinacea has long been treasured for its medicinal qualities. It is often used to improve immune function and to reduce the severity of many ailments, including the common cold, flu and upper respiratory infections.
In addition to its medicinal applications, echinacea is an easy to grow perennial prized for its ornamental blooms. The most common variety of echinacea is also known as purple coneflower due to its striking petal color. However, blooms can be found in many other colours, including white, orange, pink, red and yellow.
Lavender is a staple in herb gardens and is equally popular in sunny flower gardens where the soil is well-drained and winters are mild. Its many historical and modern day uses include the gamut from perfume and aromatherapy to culinary to health to household as an ironing aid and moth repellent.
Common names may give you a clue to a plant’s herbal history or usage. For example, the perennial flower called lungwort was used to treat lung conditions. Today, we grow it in the shady flower garden and know it by the name Pulmonaria.
Monkshood (Aconite) and Foxglove (Digitalis)
Monkshood and Foxglove had old-time medicinal uses. Today we know that monkshood (Aconite) is highly toxic whether ingested or handled but we still grow it for its lovely blue flowers. Foxglove, or Digitalis, is also toxic if ingested. The name gives you a clue as to its medicinal power or ability to affect the heart.
Pot Marigold (Calendula)
Soothing Calendula is terrific for early spring and late fall flowering, bringing bright rays of sunshine to the cool season garden when flowers may otherwise be few and far between. This is a prolific self seeding plant.
While sage is commonly used in cooking, especially in stuffing at Thanksgiving, it also has medicinal qualities and many varieties of sage are quite ornamental. Pineapple sage, Hummingbird sage, Lowry’s Peach sage and Russian sage are just a few ornamental sage varieties to consider. They all have pretty flowers that attract butterflies, hummingbirds and bees.
Scented Geranium (Pelargonium)
Don’t forget the scented geraniums (Pelargonium), perhaps the ultimate combination in suitability for both herb garden and flower garden and especially worthwhile for its ability to grow in a container to delight us indoors during the winter months.
Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
Tansy is a big and bold plant with tiny golden yellow button flowers that thrives in difficult spots with hot sun and poor soil. It is said to repel ants and was often grown by the kitchen door. Today, it can be useful in the flower garden if you have a difficult spot to plant.
Thyme, in its many forms, is always welcome in the flower garden although we might think of it first as a kitchen seasoning herb.
Thyme flowers come in shades of white and purple. The bright jewel-tone blooms of creeping thyme will make your walkway pleasant to look at, all the while permeating the air with fragrance as you step on it. The taller French thyme can be clipped into a small-scale edging to border your flower garden. And the gray leafed woolly thyme offers a lovely foliage contrast. It’s perfect for sunny perennial gardens with well-drained soil.
With feathery leaves and flowers in white, yellow or red, this herb makes a stunning addition to a flower garden. Yarrow is also believed to be a natural insect repellent – something all gardeners are likely to appreciate!
Save Space for Herbs in Your Flower Garden
This overview, including just some of the herbs with beautiful flowers that can be grown in the flower garden as ornamental plants, should help you expand your knowledge of herbs — and of flowers, too!
Consider adding flowering herbs with their fascinating lore and many uses to your flower garden. You are sure to find some new favourite herbal “flowers” to expand your flower garden.