Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mad* About Hyssop

In May of 2009, my Mother's Day present from Douglas was the installation of my pretty new oak flooring in the laundry room, kitchen and dining areas. While Doug and Bud installed the flooring, Shelly and I went to some garage sales in the morning and plant shopping in the afternoon.
We were inspired by one of the garage sale stops - when we admired the woman's flower beds at the side of her home, she invited us on a complete tour including her back yard. After that, we were really ready to go plant shopping.
If it hadn't been for Shelly's purchase of two hyssop plants - a lavender one and a coral one - I would not have bought one, too. Both colors were pretty. I went with the coral/orange/pink one. I had heard of hyssop before, but I had never seen it in bloom. I'm very attracted to what I describe as airy plants and this is one.
The first year, it bloomed nicely and grew to about two feet tall before frost. I really didn't expect it to survive the winter, so I was quite happy when it came back up this spring. This is a picture of it taken on June 26 - already taking over the sundial. I love the fragrance and so do the bees. They worked the flowers all summer long. The hummingbirds enjoyed it, too.

And this is the plant as it looks today - approximately four feet high and four feet across. You can hardly make out the cupid statue holding the sundial. I can't bear to cut this plant back as long as it has these gorgeous blooms. But once we have a killing frost, I am going to dig and divide it. I don't have much space on the south side of the house for more plantings, so I'm going to try it on the north side, even though instructions say to plant in a sunny location.
Hyssop is a herb of the mint family. It has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. An infusion made from the flower tops can be used as an expectorant. It has also been used as a remedy for rheumatism and asthma. Leaves can be used to add flavor to soups, salads and meats.
I doubt I will enjoy this plant by taste - sight and smell are enough for me. I just wish I had discovered it many years ago.
(* Mad - carried away by enthusiasm.)

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