Did you know that betony was thought to chase away vengeful ghosts, evil enchantments and bad dreams? I'm not acquainted with its alleged magical properties or even the real medicinal ones (apparently it was a prized healing herb in the ancient herbal medicine collection, supposed to provide relief for headaches and gastrointestinal upset), I just love its graceful purple flowers that float above a thick rosette of oblong leaves whose edges look like they have been decorated with a paper crafts crimper.

Like most of the aromatic and medicinal herbs it belongs to the mint family. It is a very long lived perennial with an accommodating personality that weathers droughts, partial shade and heavy soils very successfully. I inherited it and spread it around the garden as the clumps grew and it adjusted quickly to its new locations.

Don't spurn the short bloomed perennials, they are essential to the ever changing tapestry that is the all seasons garden. If you plan your garden well there should be flowers in it that come back year after year and stay in bloom for most of the growing season to provide continuity and structure for the movable landscape of spring bulbs, June roses and fall mums. Betony puts forth one long lived bloom at the beginning of summer and then modestly fades into the background to make room for the gladioli, lilies, daisies and black-eyed Susans.

I planted betony in part-shade. It likes full sun better, of course, but it will bloom if there is enough food and water. It grows more delicate in the shade, its flowers balancing tentatively atop tender stems.

Author's Bio: 

Main Areas: Garden Writing; Sustainable Gardening; Homegrown Harvest
Published Books: “Terra Two”; “Generations”, "Letters to Lelia", "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.