June 23, 2017

Feast for the Eyes

Origanum 'Kent Beauty'

Janine Pineo Photo | Origanum ‘Kent Beauty’

Mention oregano and images of savory Italian dishes probably pop into your head. But once you’ve grown Origanum ‘Kent Beauty,’ another image will be there: elegant cascades of hop-like flowers overflowing a container. Set against the silver-tinged round leaves, the mauve-pink flowers look nothing like those of your garden-variety oregano. There is an aroma, but the plant is best used as an ornamental since the leaves lack the tasty punch of Origanum vulgare. The plant is not hardy in Maine; some sites say possibly a tender perennial in Zone 6, some say 8. Its best use is as a container plant so one can admire those tumbling flowers. Plus, those bracts of blooms can be dried as an everlasting. One thing to note is that, like most of its brethren, the plant prefers dry roots to wet ones, thriving in heat and slightly droughty conditions.