August 7, 2009 | Panayoti Kelaidis, Senior Curator & Director of Outreach

My xeriscape at home is a tragedy right now: masses of giant larkspur, horned poppies, mullein--all twice as big as they should be--all flopping and smothering any little gems below. Depressing. But in my back yard my rock work is garlanded and festooned, embellished and just plain SAVED by that herb of grace, Oregano. I'm not talking about culinary oregano (Origanum vulgare var. hirtum), which I have down by my veggie garden. I'm talking the numerous ornamental oreganos that provide such a wonderful splash of subtle color this time of year. In addition to their sophisticated grace, they seem to have another sterling quality: oreganos are long lived and tough: I planted the Lebanese Oregano, featured by Plant Select, at the entrance of the Rock Alpine Garden in 1980: it is stunning right now if you come down to visit, thirty summers later! With no other attention than a haircut every spring. The flashiest for me is probably the hybrid Origanum x suendermanii, produced decades ago by Fritz Sundermann's great alpine nursery in Lindau, Bavaria. I am especially fond of the cool lime-colored Origanum acutidens, introduced from Turkey by the indefatigable Jim and Jenny Archibald twenty years ago

Origanum acutidens: a perfect lime cooler!


Origanum x suendermannii: cool lavender pink


Origanum 'Kent Beauty' always a winner!

: it is a perfect foil for the bright blues of gentians, which deserve a blog all their own (soon to come!). I don't know about you, I think I like spicy gardens every bit as much as spicy anyone?


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