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Herbs – The Perfect Plant For Your Own Herb Garden - by Jonathan Yaakobi


Is it possible to find a plant that is at once decorative, aromatic, flavorsome and useful as a pest-control agent? Too good to be true? If you have a herb garden or are thinking of creating one, consider planting Artemisia arborescens, as it possesses all those properties just mentioned. You may not have the perfect spouse, but at least there is such a thing as the perfect plant for a herb garden!

Artemisia is a large genus from the sage family, containing many species, including the herb Tarragon. (Artemisia dracunulus) Artemisia arborescens originates from the Mediterranean. Growing to about 1 meter, (3 ft) its foliage is a bright silvery-grey, with interesting, delicate and finely cut leaf patterns. Design-wise, it is highly suited to a dry climate garden, combining beautifully in terms of texture with delicate-leaved plants like Chrysanthemum frutescens. In terms of color, it blends well with the blues, lilacs and pinks of such plants as Lavender, Dianthus, (perennial carnations) and many species of sage.

A silvery plant of course, always functions as an accent amongst the mass of green foliage in a border. Moreover, in a herb garden, the Artemisia leaves contrast dramatically with the purple leaves of some varieties of Basil and the dark or variegated foliage of some sages.

While A. arborescens is well known for its aromatic qualities, not everyone is familiar with its herbal uses. Its leaves are excellent in tea, but ought to be removed shortly after immersion to avoid the tea becoming too bitter. The oils contained in the plant are thought to have anti-viral properties and are the subject of much scientific/medical research.

Some species of Artemisia are considered to depress the growth of neighboring plants.
Having grown A. arborescens for years in gardens in Israel, I have no reason to believe that this is the case with this particular species. On the contrary; there seems to be an absence of pests wherever it grows. It is highly likely therefore that the Artemisia repels insects to a considerable degree. The one interesting exception is during the spring when the tips of its stems tend to be smothered in black aphids, while all the remaining garden species in the vicinity remain virtually untouched. Very possibly it functions as a decoy plant. The aphids cause minimal damage to the Artemisia and can be easily removed by clipping the affected parts. In any case, spring is a good time for pruning Artemisia plants. It keeps their growth dense and compact. In time, a plant can be limbed up into a mini tree, rather like Rosemary bushes.

 



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Jonathan Ya'akobi

Your Personal Gardening Coach
 



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