Many herbs are just as at home in the flower garden as they are growing by the kitchen door. Chives, for instance, can be nestled among rock garden plants or used in the perennial border. The spiky, light green chive foliage has an attractive grasslike appearance, and the pink-lavender flowers add early garden color.
Lungwort, another early-flowering herb, was once used to treat whooping cough and other ailments of the chest. Its white-spotted green foliage adds variety to the garden, as do its bright pink flowers, which mature to a true blue. Often both pink and blue flowers can be seen growing on this herb at the same time.
Yarrow, which flowers at mid-season, is aromatic, and its long-lasting rose, white, or yellow flower heads can be used in fresh or dried arrangements. Years ago yarrow tea was commonly used to treat colds and fevers, and the fernlike gray-green leaves added zest to summer salads.
Herbs that add an entire season of bloom to the flower bed are hyssop (blossoms of purple, pink, or white), bedstraw (yellow), flax (blue), and the scented geraniums (pink, blue, purple).
Many herbs are effective in plantings for the color and texture of their foliage. The artemisias, including ‘Silver King’, which grows to three feet, and ‘Silver Mound’, often used as a neat accent in the front border, have eye-catching gray-green leaves and stems.
Several herbs make great ground covers. Creeping thyme can quickly cover a barren slope with sparkling silver foliage and bright pink or white flowers. When planted in the cracks between stones or bricks in a garden path, they perfume the air with every step.
Lamium is an extremely attractive ground cover that thrives in shade or dappled sunlight. Its silver-green leaves are quite showy, as are its pink, white, or purple blooms. Also known as dead nettle, it is a close cousin of the bothersome weed stinging nettle but without any of the disadvantages.
Chamomile is a low-growing ground cover with small daisylike, yellow-centered white blossoms. This tough, drought-resistant herb can be substituted for lawn grass and will even stand up to mowing. And if you’re at a loss as to what to do with the clippings, they can be brewed into a fine cup of tea.