Why not surround yourself with beautiful and highly energetic plants that can contribute to your health and well being by offering nutrients, fruit, or medicine? Even in small spaces, on patios or inside the house, plants are good companions when their needs are met.
What about supporting bees and other pollinators by planting thyme, prunella, bitterroot, violets, alpine strawberries, california poppies or other low growing, flowering and/or fruiting plants instead of a lawn? Grass lawns are a waste of water, space and sunlight when there are much more beautiful, aromatic, vigorous and pollinator-friendly plants to be found. And many of these herbs are xeric.
Following are some of my favorite sources for organic, interesting, and beautiful perennials, herb plants, fruiting plants and organic seeds. Even if you don’t order from these companies, they have a lot of information to offer and many amazing plants to dream about! I like to read up on any plants I’m considering if I don’t already know all about them. Especially larger plants, like roses – it’s always good to research via garden blogs and discussion groups to find out what other gardeners think. Pinterest is another great source of information for gardeners, artists, beekeepers, and more. And what about your local Botanic Garden? Lots to learn there.
A great source for growing information about a wide range of herbs is:
RICHTERS – herb plants & seeds, unusual, fragrant herbs
I’m planning on ordering thyme from Richters to plant a lawn or patio and make some borders along my sunny gardens. I adore the smell of thyme, I use it in cooking and green blends, and always have it in my garden because bees and other pollinators adore thyme flowers Richter’s has an awesome selection of herb plants (28 Thyme varieties, 39 types of Lavender!) that are not always easy to find locally. Shipping is quite reasonable.
You can order a single plant, a plug tray of 12 plants, or an entire tray of 120 plants of one herb, in case you want to plant a lawn or patio with thyme, or you just want to grow a lot of a favorite plant.
Here is my wish list from Richter’s:
Rose Petal Thyme – A special thyme only available from Richter’s. I like to experiment with different kinds of herbs. I probably have 10 different types of Thyme in various locations. I’m very curious about a thyme that emits a rose geranium-like fragrance.
English Thyme – The most vigorous. For any patio, walkway or even driveway!
Lemon Verbena – Plug Pack – OK, maybe I won’t get 12 plants. But I adore the fragrance and flavor of Lemon Verbena. Elixirs, infused honey, and even Lemon Verbena Coconut Ice Cream. Also heavenly when stuffed into dream pillows. Add some dried leaves to your morning Twig tea. Delicious! The leaves and stems maintain their lovely, uplifting fragrance for years. In the garden, the fragrance of Lemon Verbena wafts in the breeze, so plant it somewhere close to a path or next to your garden bench. Gets 4-5′ tall when happy. Full sun.
Rose Geranium Plants – One of my “must have” herbs as it is so amazing for skin care when distilled into a hydrosol. Also fabulous in dream pillows. One of the most pleasantly fragrant of the scented geraniums – quite dreamy, actually. Repels moths from closets and the essential oil repels ticks and fleas, all the while having a lovely floral fragrance. Put a couple drops on your dog’s collar when you are walking in or near the woods. Make a spray: 8 oz water, 10 drops of Rose Geranium essential oil. Shake before spraying yourself and/or your dog.
Echinacea Fragrant Angel – When Echinacea is fragrant, it’s really fragrant. I might try one plant to see how it likes Colorado growing conditions.
Echinacea Flame Thrower – A beautiful orange-flowering plant. Echinacea is very easy to grow when provided with it’s own space. I might try one of these plants to see how large it gets in one summer. Most Echinacea are generous herbs that grow well in full or almost full sun and receive regular watering. The flowers and stems are medicinal, so you don’t have to dig up the plant to make a very potent medicinal honey or tincture.
Codonopsis Seeds – The root has medicinal properties similar to ginseng. Useful as a pain remedy when made into a tincture. Fun to grow, as it vines and blooms prolifically with adorable bell shaped purplish-green flowers. I got a tiny seedling from a friend one year that grew vigorously to 5 feet high and 3 feet wide in one season, so I think it must be relatively easy to start from seed. It’s a perennial in zones 5-8. Just dig up one third or half the plant each year.
Richter’s also carries dried herbs and books related to herb gardening. Fun to look around on their site, even if you don’t place an order.
BRUSHWOOD NURSERY -the most amazing Clematis collection!
Brushwood Nursery – so many clematis, you could go cross-eyed looking at all of them. While you may not order from them, there is a lot to learn from this web site, and such an amazing variety of beauties!
HIGH COUNTRY GARDENS – great info about growing plants in the hot western climates, large selection, garden plans
Lots of interesting plants here, and complete growing instructions. They offer a variety of pre-planned gardens, including xeric, pollinator-friendly and hummingbird gardens.
Even if you don’t buy their plants, you can learn about how they design the garden and which plants they include. Think about what kind of environment you have to work with and go from there. There are desirable and lovely plants for every environment, without exception. Most on-line plant catalogs have search options for sun or shade. Many have even more refined search functions – color, height, zone, fragrance and more.
This “inferno strip” garden looks good, but is out of stock at the time of this writing. You can look for the plants locally!
HORIZON HERBS – organically grown plants and seeds, the most medicinal herbs, hard to find plants, lots of info
I adore Horizon Herbs for organic herb plants and seeds. Be advised that some seeds germinate very readily, like Chamomile, St. John’s Wort and Calendula – all of which I have grown from seed. Other herbs, especially perennials like Lavender, can take weeks to sprout. I most often order plants from Horizon. They grow the plants until they are ready to ship, then give you a call when they send them out. They also carry Mycorrhizal inoculant which I have mentioned in earlier blogs. Get some!!!
I have ordered Tulsi (Holy Basil) plants, a Schisandra vine, Angelica, Ashwagandha, Gotu Kola and other plants from Horizon. Their plants are sometimes quite small, but never fail to grow into generously sized plants the first year.
HONEYBERRY USA – Honey Berry, Goji Berry and other fruiting shrubs. Super helpful on the phone.
Yes there is a website called HoneyberryUSA! I ordered my honey berry bushes from them because I felt more secure with their descriptions and recommendations about which ones to plant together for cross-pollination purposes. These are zone 2 plants – they grow in Canada. Just be sure the variety you choose won’t bloom too early, as pollinators have to be available and active at that time.
We now have three Honeyberries, all of which bloomed in early April when there were no honeybees out and about! Something did pollinate them, though, as there are tiny berries forming! These are some hardy shrubs, and adaptable, as they are now in 5 gallon pots, after having been in the ground for a season. We dug them up early this Spring since we will be taking them with us to our new location.
This company sells a lot of other fruiting plants, and if you call for info, they are very helpful. We bought goji berry plants from them as well as honey berries. All are vigorous and very healthy looking plants.
If you want to explore different types of berries or fruiting or flowering vines, I have had good luck ordering from One Green World.
I ordered my Passiflora from this company, and it arrived on a trellis and in bloom. Turns out this Passiflora incarnata is actually zone 5, because, here in Colorado (zone 5) it returns every late Spring or early Summer and, from the ground, covers an entire 15’ x 15’ trellis by mid to late summer. It is often called “Maypop” because it has a tendency to pop up everywhere!! Easy to pull up, but you do have to keep an eye on it. Harvest the aerial parts (leaf, stem and flower) when in full bloom and make a wonderful nervine sleep aid. Excellent herb to have on hand for stressful situations that are ongoing. Beautiful, oddly fragrant flowers that bees adore.
One of my favorite websites is Heirloom Roses where all the roses are hand propagated on their own roots – creating a much more durable plant. That said, I lost two grafted roses and one English own-root rose this season – the first time I’ve lost any rose, ever. I think the early arctic blast shocked them into dormancy prematurely. Even some of the large roses that have never had any problems during the winter had to be cut back by half or more.
Some roses did very well. My hardiest roses, which came from various sources, are as follows. Even though some of these didn’t come from Heirloom, they probably carry them.
Lyda Rose – a single, almost continuous blooming rose that I adore. The bees also love it. The fragrance has an amazing effect on my nervous system. Delightful. Blooms in clusters. A rose that offers much in the way of sheer numbers of flowers. I visit this rose daily when in bloom to gather some blossoms and watch the bees come and go. Deadheading will bring on new blooms. Luckily I planted two of these, so am taking one with me to the new location.
Rose de Rescht – a super productive, hardy little rose. The shrub can reach 4 – 5′ tall and 3 feet wide. Continual bloom all summer when roses are harvested daily. So fragrant, so pretty, very vibrant plant. Perfect for infused honey or rose elixir. They dry perfectly into adorable, perfect small purple roses and retain their fragrance for many months.
Souvenir du Dr Jamain – hasn’t bloomed for me yet, but has grown steadily and looks very healthy. I moved it from a mostly shady location to a strong eastern exposure with shade after 2:00 p.m. The fact that it looks so excellent this year attests to it’s hardy nature. It’s growing in a great exposure that gets full sun starting first thing in the morning. This is a very fragrant, deep purple rose that needs protection from hot afternoon sun. Got this one from Heirloom Roses.
Morden’s Sunrise – A beautiful yellow-apricot blend that blooms prolifically in early June, and when properly deadheaded immediately after finishing, will repeat. This plant is on the south facing side of the house, and always comes back strong each year. My husband’s favorite. It’s blooming now, but not as strongly as in years past. This is a photo from last June. Discovered this rose at the Denver Botanic Garden and purchased it in Boulder from an organic nursery.
Apothecary Rose – very strong grower. One of the oldest roses, dating back to the 14th century. Historically this rose was often found growing in front of the town’s apothecary – thus the name. This plant forms a shrub that is 3-4′ tall, and 4-5′ wide. Blooms once, quite prolifically. Don’t deadhead if you want rose hips. You can harvest the flower petals for infusions, however. A beautiful old rose that is planted in the south facing front garden next to the house in partial shade.
Rosa Glauca – a lovely single rose that enjoys some shade and produces small rose hips. The foliage is a blue-green, beautifully off-setting the bright lavender and white roses. Forms a tall, arching shrub, which can grow very large over time – almost into a tree sized rose. Plant it where it can have it’s beautiful arching shape. Very pretty, and mine has come back strong this year – it’s best year yet. Faces south right in front of the house, in partial shade.
Francesca is a VERY fragrant apricot-orange rose. I ordered this one from Heirloom. It didn’t like the shady location where I first planted it, so I moved it to a strong eastern exposure where it came up quite nicely this Spring. It’s not particularly happy in a pot right now, but I’m quite sure it will recover. Orange roses have the most beautiful fragrance.
There you have it. Some of my favorite sources for roses, herbs and other delightful perennials. Don’t forget to add some glacial rock dust, Age Old Grow organic fertilizer and Mycorrhizal Fungi to your gardens and potted plants – available at PlanetNaturals.com.
Blessings to you and your gardens,