Satureja montana

Winter savory

CODE: 0A7-0001
ZONE: 5b
PRICE: $6.00
POT SIZE: 4.5"sq x 3.5", 475 ml

Many herbs are overlooked when it comes to their ornamental qualities. Some are bred to make them more garden-worthy with variegated or purple foliage, but some herbs have a lot to offer the landscape just as the are.

A low-growing woody shrub, it spreads into a broad-rounded mound of thin glossy dark green leaves that smell wonderful. They are also wonderfully fragrant (and edible) and, as a key herb of Provence, a delightful addition to many food dishes. The flowers are what really catch my eye. They're really quite small, but when you but a bunch of them together, watch out! From June through August spikes of white to lilac-tinged blooms form a breath-taking display.

Like so many plants, I was first introduced to this one when I was an intern at the Morton Arboretum. I think the original planting is gone now, but there was a large raised bed near the Rhododendrons and South Korean collections that I loved to sit beside when taking a break. It was always in bloom and just covered with butterflies.

For that reason I'm confused when I read about the supposed hardiness issues with winter savory. I'm actually growing it quite well in my USDA zone 5b garden, and the Morton Arboretum is another 150 miles north. I can only guess, but those who have problems probably aren't providing enough drainage in the winter months.

That's the key to survival with this plant: drainage. It will even grow in a partially shaded area as long as you give it enough drainage. It's perfect along the edges of raised beds right by the kitchen door. Reach out, snip a few leaves, and add them to anything from coq au vin to an omelette.

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