Lady’s Mantle is one of my very favourite herbs. It was a bit tricky to start but once established there has been no stopping it from popping up in every shady spot it can find.
Lady’s Mantle is a sturdy perennial with unique and beautiful bluish green leaves branching out from a center stock. Lady’s Mantle spreads easily and in decent soil will easily grow over a foot tall. It blooms almost all summer with sprays of delicate yellow flowers. This is one of those special herbs that thrives in full shade and should be the backbone of any shade garden.
Lady’s Mantle is a perennial herb that is hardy in Zones 3 – 9. It can be tricky to start but will germinate if the seed flat is covered and tucked into the fridge until it germinates. The good news is that once it is started Lady’s Mantle is unstoppable. I have found that it was best to put it in one bed by itself so that it didn’t overwhelm more delicate herbs.
There has been nothing that a Nova Scotia winter could throw at it that has ever slowed it down either.
Although Lady’s Mantle has historically been used for childbirth to stem bleeding, under no circumstances should it be used during pregnancy.
Please note that while there are other varieties than vulgaris, I have not found any available in either seed or plants.
If you let the runaway popups mature each season, the plants can be harvested without decimating your herb bed.
Many biennial plants are so easy to overlook in their first year that they could easily be mistaken for weeds in the herb garden.. Viper’s Bugloss is well worth the wait as it becomes a real show stopper in the second year. In Europe, Viper’s Bugloss grows wild in fields and ditches
Viper’s Bugloss is a biennial herb that commonly found as a wildflower in Europe. First year Viper’s Bugloss could easily be mistaken for a weed. In the second year, Viper’s Bugloss becomes an upright plant with spikes of blue flowers. In poor soil, this herb will still reach at least a foot in height. In well nourished soil it can easily reach three feet in height. This is an excellent plant for wild gardens as it easily naturalizes.
Viper’s Bugloss is a hardy biennial in Zones 4 to 8. Although it starts easily from seed, I have found it helpful to label the unassuming first year seedlings so they do not wind up being weeded out of the garden. Space seedlings at least 18 to 24 inches apart to accommodate the second year growth.
Seeds do require sunlight to germinate, although I have found a bit of bottom heat for a few days when first starting the seeds to be very helpful. Helpful Hint …. although you can buy heat mats for starting seeds, it can be just as helpful to tuck the seed flat on top of the fridge.
This is a plant that prefers full sun and well drained soil. I have found that a generous top dressing of rich compost in the first fall to be very helpful for naturalizing.
Bumblebees REALLY love the showy second years spikes of flowers!
Although in olden days, Viper’s Bugloss was thought to be beneficial for snake bite, it is now valued more for its antiseptic properties. There is anecdotal evidence that infusions of the leaves can be used as a diuretic.
Garden Sage makes a wonderful herb to plant by your garden gate. While it might not have the striking appeal of some other sage varieties, plain garden sage more than makes up for that with its lovely earthy fragrance every time those soft leaves are touched. If I didn’t have happy boisterous dogs, I would also plant Garden Sage by my front door for good health.
Garden Sage is a hardy perennial herb with soft velvety leaves. As it ages, the stems become quite woody but the growth remains dense and full in well nourished ground. Garden Sage has a short flowering time with small blue flowers that bees are fond of.
Perennial in Zones 5 – 9, can be grown as an annual in cooler climes if started indoors eight weeks before the last frost.
Sages of all sorts prefer full sun and are great plants for gardeners who need to conserve water. Once they are established, all sages actually prefer not to get their feet too wet.
Even in milder climates, sages of any variety benefit from heavy organic mulch to protect them from cold weather before they are blanketed with snow.
Garden Sage can be helpful companion plants for cabbage, carrots and tomatoes. Sages of any sort should not be grown near Rue or onions. Cucumbers will not do well when planted near sage.
Unless one is cooking for a crowd, there is no need to harvest the entire plant for winter stores. Individual leaves freeze dry very well on trays and winter well if they are layered in a container lined with parchment paper in the freezer. Leaves can also be preserved in oil or processed in the same fashion as pesto.
If one is making bundles for smudging, the plant is best harvested and tied in shape after flowering Hang individually to dry.
There is nothing about the humble first year Clary (below) that even hints at what a spectacular show stopper (above) that this biennial herb becomes in its second year. If you have been hesitant to try biennials in your garden, Clary would definitely be the best one to start with.
In its first year, Clary has a cluster of large soft green fuzzy leaves. In the second year, those same leaves come back to life and burst into a beautiful flowering plant that holds its beauty for nearly the entire summer. Even when it begins to fade a bit, it is still a lovely sight as it goes to seed.
Clary is a soft leaved biennial that flowers in the second year. During the first year, there will be a cluster of soft leaves that can reach 12 to 18 inches tall. During the second year, Clary can easily reach three feet. In well nourished soil it can go as high as five feet. The second year plant can spread at least as wide as its height.
Clary prefers well drained dry soil and will thrive in full sun.
Clary is easily started from seed. Although it can be directly seeded in the garden, it does benefit from an early indoor start in jiffy pots.
Even in our lovely pocket of Zone 6, I have found it beneficial to heavily mulch Clary with a good thick covering of straw. Pull it back gently in the spring so as not to disturb the early growth.
If left standing over the winter, in mild years second year Clary can self seed..