I was walking through the plant nursery trying to decide what to add to the fall garden when a giant blue hyssop literally grabbed on to my sleeve. Its lavender flowers soaked the surroundings in a wildly intoxicating aroma of anise and licorice as I brushed against them, reminding me why hyssop is one of the primary ingredients for chartreuse. The scent of licorice complemented the afternoon sunlight, enticing butterflies and bees and adding spicy accents to the end of summer palette.

The spicy fragrance makes it an essential component in sachets and potpourris if you happen to enjoy the licorice smell. The plant is even more delightful in the garden, a dusty blue sweet scented backdrop for late summer and early fall flowers.

The ceremonial significance of hyssop requires no introduction. Some plants are so essentially connected to ritual that they rise from the physical realm to that of symbolism.

Curiosity got the better of me as the familiar words of the psalm of repentance resonated in my mind in response to encountering this plant, and I wanted to know what the hyssop of old looked like, or if it even exists anymore.

What does hyssop look like? It depends on which plant called by this name you are referring to; the hyssop from the Old Testament is different from the one now used in the Asperges ceremony, and they are both different from the anise hyssop, the one that grabbed my attention in such a direct manner. All three belong to the mint family, like many aromatic herbs do, but anise hyssop is a more distant relative and a native one at that.

Author's Bio: 

Main Areas: Garden Writing; Sustainable Gardening; Homegrown Harvest
Published Books: “Terra Two”; “Generations”, "Letters to Lelia", and "The Plant - A Steampunk Story"
Career Focus: Author; Consummate Gardener;
Affiliation: All Year Garden; The Weekly Gardener; Francis Rosenfeld's Blog

I started blogging in 2010, to share the joy of growing all things green and the beauty of the garden through the seasons. Two garden blogs were born: allyeargarden.com and theweeklygardener.com, a periodical that followed it one year later. I wanted to assemble an informal compendium of the things I learned from my grandfather, wonderful books, educational websites, and my own experience, in the hope that other people might use it in their own gardening practice.