As someone who finds both peace and joy in gardening as well as beauty in the results, I feel there is no greater pleasure than being surrounded by abundant blooms. ~Larry Hodgon
A fabulous summer to late summer long blooming herb, that is also a native plant in my garden, is Agastache foeniculum. With its tall purple spikes, it can reach heights of 2-4 feet tall. It is like a sugary sweet popsicle to the pollinators that throng to it all day. You can spy the side of a bee on the picture above to the right of the flower.
Agastache foeniculum is native to much of north-central and northern North America where it grows in sunny somewhat drier conditions.
As I profile this plant, I am combining two posts, Simply The Best-Herbs and Wildflower Tales. I am linking in with both Diana@Elephant’s Eye on False Bay for her meme, Dozen for Diana, and Gail@Clay and Limestone who hosts Wildflower Wednesday which is this Wednesday.
Agastache foeniculum goes by many names: Blue giant hyssop, Fragrant giant hyssop and Lavender hyssop. But it’s most commonly used name is Anise hyssop.
Although Anise hyssop and hyssop are in the same family (the mint family Lamiaceae), they are not closely related. Hyssop is a species of semi-woody plants native from the the east Mediterranean to central Asia. Where Anise hyssop is only found in North America.
The genus Agastache describes the flower and comes from two Greek words agan meaning “much ” and stachys denoting an “ear of grain”. These describe the flower. Foeniculum comes from a Latin word meaning “hay”.
In its native habitat, you can find this agastache in dry, open, semi-shaded fields, prairies and along roadsides. It will tolerate shade ,but grows best in more sun. It grows well in a variety of soils such as sandy, loam, clay-loam and somewhat rocky soil, but the soil must be well draining. Even if the soil gets moist as long as it is not wet but free draining, the plant will do well.
I grow it in the front gardens where it is hotter and drier, and it performs wonderfully although it will self seed, but not too aggressively. I plan to try it in the meadow as well this coming year, and in the garden around the pond that is one of the driest in the back gardens. In the back I am looser with plants that seed. Deadhead this plant if you want to keep these flowers under control, and if you want to encourage more blooms.
Occasionally slugs and insects will feed on the plant creating holes. But it does not present serious insect or disease problems. Watch out for crown or root rot in poorly drained soils. And it can be susceptible to rust, powdery mildew and leaf spots although mine have never had this as I give them lots of space.
Agastache foeniculum dies back to the ground in winter. Divide clumps in spring or fall, or start it easily from seed. I also like to transplant the volunteers in fall.
Anise hyssop was used by many Native Americans. Medicinally it was used to help with cough, fevers, wounds and intestinal problems.
Native Americans also found many other uses for this native plant. The Cheyenne made it into a tea to relieve a “dispirited heart.” The Cree included the flowers in medicine bundles, and the Chippewa made it into a protective charm.
They say to plant it around your back door or add it to the back of the border for protection. It can also been dried and burned as incense. The essence of the flower is said to encourage honest communication and reduce anxiety before such things as exams or performances.
Anise hyssop is a wonderful native herb with many culinary uses. The anise-scented leaves can be used to make herbal teas or jellies. The leaves can be added to green or fruit salads but in moderation as they can dry out the mouth. The flower also is a wonderful garnish for ice tea.
The leaves have a minty licorice flavor that is sweet. You can steep leaves in milk prior to making ice cream or adding it to your coffee. It is used to flavor cakes, breads and also meat or poultry. Seeds, minced flowers or dried leaves can be added to cookies or muffins for an anise flavor.
The purple flower spike is favored by bees who make a light fragrant honey from the plant’s nectar.
An infusion from the leaves is used in the treatment of colds, fevers and heart issues. When the infusion is cold, it is used to treat lung issues. A poultice from the leaves and stems can be used to treat burns.
Anise hyssop is lovely in fresh or dried arrangements. The dried flowers and leaves make a wonderful potpourri. They also look great in a winter garden. Add it to your wildflower gardens, herb gardens or meadows.
The flowers are highly attractive to butterflies, skippers, moths and hummingbirds.
Many bees visit this flower: honey bees, bumblebees, digger bees, leaf-cutting bees, Halictid bees, and Masked bees, seeking out nectar or pollen.
While deer tend to avoid the anise flavored leaves, rabbits favor them.
Language of Flowers
In the “language of flowers”, hyssop symbolizes cleanliness and sacrifice. It has been used since ancient times in rituals to clean holy places.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Summer is waning and fall will be here soon. I hope you will join me for Seasonal Celebrations starting September 1st (I’ll actually post on the 31st). Read more about it below.
Seasonal Celebrations is a time for marking the change of seasons and what is happening in your part of the world during this time. I hope you will join in by creating a post telling us how you celebrate this time of year whether summer or winter or something else. Share your traditions, holidays, gardens and celebrations in pictures, poetry or words starting September 1st.
And it seems so appropriate to collaborate with Beth and her Lessons Learned meme. What lessons have you learned this past season of summer here in the North and winter in the South. Then tell us about your wishes, desires and dreams for this new season.The rules are simple. Just create a post that talks about lessons learned and/or seasonal celebrations. If you are joining in for both memes please leave a comment on both our blog posts. Or if you are choosing to join only one meme, leave a comment on that blog post. Make sure to include a link with your comment.
Beth and I will do a summary post of our respective memes on the equinox (the 22nd of September). And we will keep those posts linked on a page on our blog. Your post should be linked in the weekend before the equinox to give us enough time to include your post in our summary. And if you link in a bit late, never fear we will include it on the special blog page (which I still have to create). The badges here can be used in your post. So won’t you join in the celebration!!
Next up on the blog: Join me on the 31st for my Seasonal Celebrations post. I hope you will join in the meme as August wanes. With September’s arrival, I will do a wrap up of my August garden on the 2nd. I also have a blogging anniversary on the 13th with a special post.
I am linking in with Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme. It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Wednesday.
As always, I’ll be joining Tootsie Time’s Fertilizer Friday.
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