As a teen I read of old monk gardens filled with herbs, likely meant for medicine. I imagined digging a lower level and making seats of stone in a circle,with herbs covering it all like a carpet.
Now I have a small garden, and I have searched for what herbs works in my zone 8b which are useable for food or medicine, bring color and visual interest, that do not grow too huge, may bring good bugs or butterflys or hummingbirds, are not high maintenence, may or may not be commonly sold in stores, and what will not die in heat, snow, or wet conditions.
It took awhile but i finally got one low creeping rosemary to take. I have 2 lavendars which nearly die in snow but recover by summer. I had planted many types of low growing thyme but elfin died and a lemon and another multicolor thyme are showing leaves but I had thought dead. I bought a white sage which is very fragrant, and am interested in other sages. Wild strawberries are doing very well in 3rd year as a clump and I would like learning uses for all parts of plants too.
Okay, feel free to tell me about herbs,suggestions,and add your own questions!
Orange thyme is the only thyme to live through our heat and humidity here (but I don’t water herbs every day). Sages are great.
Lemon balm works but spreads and is fairly tall.
Oregano can really do well on its own, and it’s not a bad looking plant.
I have a tallish catmint (nepeta) that is no care, so the shorter versions may be similar? The lavender-blue flowers come all summer long, starting now, so it’s a workhorse in my various gardens! Mine’s whatever Lowe’s would’ve sold about a decade ago.
I’m in a cold zone, so take me with a grain of salt, but I’ll put in my $0.02
Another vote for oregano, which is tough as nails and grows in rocky, dry or hot areas like nobody’s business. I’m not sure which variety of oregano I have, but it has small leaves and classic pizza-sauce flavor.
Mint will spread like crazy, but it’s easy to grow and good for tea. I grow mine in a container to keep it from taking over!
My personal favorite is chamomile (Matricaria recutita). It’s an annual, but self-sows. The one I grow is a 2 ft tall variety called Zloty Lan. The little flowers are pretty, and home grown chamomile tea is much better than grocery store tea (and reputed to have anti-anxiety benefits). The only drawback is that aphids like it too… For a groundcover, there’s another species called Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile), which looks similar but doesn’t produce as many flowers. I haven’t grown that one, so I can’t speak for it.