You’ll Want this Ornamental Oregano

When I saw HSA member Mary Nell Jackson’s photos of Oregano ‘Kent Beauty’ (O. rotundifolium x O. scabrum) I was smitten. So many possibilities. Eager to own it I googled the aesthetic gem. Did you know you can buy herbs on Etsy? I didn’t. I suspect I’ll stop by mail-order giant Bluestone Perennials because the company is in my backyard.

 In the meantime, here’s what Mary Nell has to say about this deer-resistant gem. – PW

By Mary Nell Jackson, HSA MemberOrnamental Oregano

I brought Kent Beauty, a hybrid ornamental oregano, home from The Herb Society of America’s Educational Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas in May.

Unlike culinary oregano, it is grown primarily for its delicate pink/chartreuse-tinged flowers that grow on wiry-like stems covered in small oval light green veined leaves. The stems have a drooping growth habit that makes it perfect for hanging baskets, window boxes and rock gardens. Not a large plant, it can mound up about a foot and trail about 18 inches.

This hybrid oregano isn’t recommended for use as culinary like its pungent cousin oregano (Origanum vulgare). Its fragrance reminds me of a smooth pleasing version of oregano. ‘Kent Beauty’ is prized for its ‘fairy like’ blossoms that dry reliably to use in crafting for wreaths and dried bouquets.

Ornamental oregano vase‘Kent Beauty’ is an annual in my North Texas garden so I planted my new plants in pots that will move indoors before frost. Bloom time for ‘Kent Beauty’ is June to September. Frequent pruning of the beautiful showy flower stems encourages more blooms.

The growing conditions make this herb an easy addition to your garden as it likes to be on the dry side, produces its cascading blooms for four months, requires very little fertilizer and its unusual coloring and growth make it a stand out in any garden.

If I could have more of this beauty I would create a rock garden, have it cascading in annual planted hanging baskets or allow it to border my garden paths but alas I must be practical and thrifty as my garden needs endless supplies of compost and mulch!


Mary Nell Jackson, a longtime member of HSA, is a Member at Large in the South Central District. She gardens in Parker, Texas, near Dallas.

 

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