PNW Landscape Plant Guide

brought to you by the plant geeks at Calendula Farm

Oregano ‘Kent Beauty’ (Origanum rotundifolium)

Oregano is in a broad family of cousins, mostly culinary herbs, including mint, thyme, marjoram, and basil. Oregano is powerful medicine too. Essential oils of oregano are widely recognized for their antimicrobial activity, as well as antiviral and antifungal properties. Recent research has demonstrated that compounds in oregano are also potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic and cancer suppressor agents.

That’s impressive, but wait till you see ‘Kent Beauty’ in action. It is considered an ornamental oregano and can still be used culinarily but isn’t the absolute best. The flavor is a little weaker than typical oregano. Use a pinch in a pinch. It is a hardy perennial here in the PNW and grows low and sprawly. It looks fantastic tumbling over walls and is stunning in a hanging basket or tall pot.

Blue/grey/green heart shaped leaves line masses of thin wiry branches. In early summer each branch tip develops a bract that looks like a hops flower or wee green pine cone. Between each scale of the bract pops a tiny pink tubular flower. Then the bract starts turning pink & transitions to pale green.. In full sun, the color is dark magenta, in shade it is baby pink. This coolness goes on non-stop from early summer through autumn. By October the bracts turn golden straw color and by late November the show is over till next spring. Hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies love it!