A Passion for Purple

By Joyce Driemeyer

Purple Betony - Stachys offinialisBy now your herb vinegars are reposing in the pantry, harvested and dried herbs are safely stored in glass jars in kitchen cabinets and bags of dried lavender, artemisias and patchouli are scenting your closets and linens. The cuttings of herbs you previously started in late summer and early September have rooted and been transplanted to containers to over winter in the kitchen window, greenhouse or on shelves under light. If you didn’t get all that accomplished, join the crowd and try again next year!

Now is a good time to reevaluate your garden and decide what plants or spaces you may like to change. Gardens are not static and trying new ideas is always fun, as long as you have some plan in mind. It is a good idea to keep a journal of names of plants and what has worked and what has not.

My own fantasy is to live in a bungalow with an unscreened front porch and a dooryard garden through which all must enter. The path from the street is lined with blooming purple betony (Stachys offinialis), interspersed for occasional accent with golden sage (Salvia offinalis ‘Aureus’) and feverfew, whose small, yellow-centered clusters of white daisy blooms and lobed foliage are nice behind the salvias. Throughout the garden there are lavenders, some hardy and some treated as annuals.

Purple-blooming Anise hyssop is fragrant and loved by bees and butterflies. Edging some of the side paths, low-growing Allium senescens glauca, behind which grow garden heliotrope and purple basils. Near the basils are low-growing bright yellow marigolds such as ‘Bonanza Yellow’. Spotted around the garden, tall spikes of purple, fragrant blooming Verbena bonariensis (not an herb) are continually visited by butterflies and provide an airy focus. Off to the sides of the garden are purple buddlea (butterfly) bushes.

Although bricks are traditionally used in herb gardens, this garden is pathed with cobbled concrete pavers, which come in a wonderful assortment of shapes and colors. The texture is lovely and, unlike brick, they are never slippery nor do they grow algae.

This is not a culinary herb garden, but is for eye and fragrance, so I can sit on the porch and enjoy the aerial wildlife of birds, bees and butterflies in my purple garden.

Joyce Driemeyer says she’s semi-retired after more than 25 years as a professional landscape designer. She is a Master Gardener, and volunteers, lectures and conducts classes at Missouri Botanical Garden, and has actively served in both the St Louis Herb Society and The Herb Society of America.


About Mike Perry

Husband, Father, DIYer, Gardener, Runner, Tea-Drinker, Traditional Wet Shaver...
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