I thought it might be helpful to compile a brief list of our best-selling and most-recommended varieties. If you’re starting an herb garden and don’t yet have favorites or know much about the different varieties, these are all great, reliable plants to start with.
Lavender: ‘Hidcote’ & ‘Munstead’~ best-sellers; ‘Provence’~ my personal favorite, highly recommended for its tidy shape and lovely flowers
Lemon balm~ Super lemony!
Mint: Peppermint & ‘Moroccan’ Spearmint; Chocolate is very close to peppermint and can be used as a substitute
Oregano, best flavor for cooking: Greek, ‘Hot & Spicy’
Rosemary: all varieties great for cooking, but ‘Barbecue’ is a customer favorite
Sage, best flavor for cooking: ‘Grower’s Friend’, Purple
Stevia~ used as a sweetener, try in tea as a sugar substitute
Tarragon: French Tarragon is a customer favorite, try Mexican Tarragon as a faster-growing substitute
Thyme~ upright, best for cooking: English, ‘Tabor’, ‘Foxley’, Lemon & Variegated Lemon (awesome substitute for regular thyme)
Thyme~ creeping, best for landscaping: ‘Creeping Red’; ‘Snowdrift’ is also highly recommended and has white flowers instead of the usual pink/purple
More great varieties for landscaping and ornamental use, or that have different than usual flower colors:
Calamint~ Variegated leaves contrast nicely when planted next to other plants and herbs, plus purple flowers.
Lavender: Lavandula dentata (Toothed or fringed lavender) & Lavandula pinnata (Pinnated or fern-leafed lavender)~ both annuals, great foliage and flowers; ‘Rosea’~ pink flowers; ‘Edelweiss’~ white flowers
Lavender Cotton~ silver leaves with really neat texture
Oregano: Dittany of Crete~ softly textured leaves and really striking, unusual purple flowers in mid-summer (note: annual); Variegated and Golden have a milder but still tasty oregano flavor and bright colored leaves (both perennial)
Rosemary: ‘Prostrata’~ trailing variety; if you want something other than the usual blue flowers, go with Pink or White
Sage: Icterina (Golden bicolor)~ bright golden color; Tricolor~ splashes of pink, white, and green; Purple~ purple leaves
Sweet Woodruff~ one of the few herbs we carry that prefers shade! Also a good spreading groundcover, with tiny white flowers early in spring
Thyme: Variegated Lemon, ‘Doone Valley’, ‘Silver King’, and ‘Foxley’ all have gorgeous foliage; ‘Creeping Red’, ‘Snowdrift’, and ‘Pink Chintz’ all form low, spreading mats
Violets~ Another great plant that can take shade or sun, spreads via runners, and has bright purple flowers in early spring
I’m also encouraging everyone to try out the scented geraniums– they can be grown outside in the garden as annuals, or kept in pots to be brought inside as houseplants during the winter. They’re incredibly fragrant, have subtle but beautiful flowers, and are rewarding to grow!