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Gardening in the Rainy Zone.
Origanum rotundifolium 'Barbara Tingey'
Pronounced: o-ree-GAH-num ro-tun-dih-FOH-lee-um
Sunset zones: 2b-24.
USDA zones: 7-9.
Heat zones: 9-7.
Height: 4 inches (10cm).
Width: 8 inches (20 cm).
Summer to first frost.
Two to three-inch long, hop-like bracts that start out a light green hue and gain a pink-tinge as it ages. Small pinkish-lavender flowers peek out between the bracts.
Blue-green, slightly rounded heart-shaped leaves.
Extremely well-drained soil.
Fertilize in spring with a complete organic fertilizer.
Divide in spring.
Basal cuttings in late spring.
Rainy Side Notes
A cross between Origanum rotundifolium and O. calcaratum, this oregano is not your typical kitchen herb; the flavor is weaker and more bitter than the culinary cultivars. What Origanum 'Barbara Tingey' lacks in flavor, she makes up for in the visual senses, waking you up to the exquisiteness of the ornamental oreganos. Heavy laden with showy bracts, the herb is at its best when draping down rock walls, containers or hanging baskets.
My first plant came in a hanging basket and hung in a plum tree that stands guard over the garden entrance. Later I took cuttings and potted it up in a small, purple urn. The container gave the new chartreuse bracts pizzazz. As it aged, the bracts colored up in pinkish hues and more small lavender flowers peek out from in between, also complemented by the purple container.
The herb is excellent when cut fresh for bouquets. Harvest the flowers in the morning and condition them in cool water. They take well to floral foam and will last approximately ten days. For dried flowers, cut before the bract turns brown.
Take cuttings of this oregano in spring. I took them in late summer, a less than ideal time for cuttings. Technically past prime propagating time, the cuttings rooted. They sat in their pot the following summer, remaining small and barely growing. By the third year, the starts grew quickly and flowered profusely.
Photographed in author's garden.