Use herbs in your landscaping series

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Your landscape doesn&8217;t have to be a &8220;cookie-cutter&8221; yard, even in the gated communities.

Use herbs to add color and functionality to those shrub beds.

This week we&8217;ll take a look at several of my favorite herbs, their purpose in the world of herbs and their uses in the landscape.

Starting with groundcovers, there are several varieties of thyme (Thymus sp.) that are used in rock gardens and outcroppings, between stepping stones and as cascading plants from retaining walls.

Some of the groundcover thymes have culinary value. Some of them you just grow for their tiny blooms or the scents they produce when you step on them.

Creeping thyme comes in several colors of blooms from white, pink and purple to true blue. Another creeper is Minus thyme and Elfin thyme. They have a lemony scent when crushed.

An unusual thyme to use is Wooly thyme. It is a creeping type with wooly-looking hairs all over it.

Upright thymes include: French thyme, English thyme, Lemon thyme, Silver Edge thyme and Golden Edge thyme, to name a few. These will grow from four to 10 inches tall.

One other cultivar to look for is Cat thyme. If you have cats, they&8217;ll love you more for growing this one. Cut a few stems of Cat thyme and give to your kitty. They&8217;ll play with it for hours.

If your thyme is a Thymus vulgarus (ssp.), it is a culinary thyme.

Another great groundcover herb is Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium).

Pennyroyal is in the mint family and is sometimes considered to be invasive.

According to some publications and books, Pennyroyal is said to be poisonous.

However, it was used to flavor sausages a while back. Pennyroyal is grown as a perennial groundcover for its durability and its insect repelling capabilities. I know, from firsthand experience, that pennyroyal repels most fleas, mites and some ticks.

If you rub your skin with crushed pennyroyal, it will repel mosquitoes. If you have skin allergies, I wouldn&8217;t recommend doing this. Also, the effect doesn&8217;t last very long.

Next week: More Landscaping with Herb