Although some plants struggle through
the summer's heat and irregular watering, some look good, really good. Give thanks for the
Most Artemisias are from the Mediterranean or Europe. Certainly, that is where
Wormwood, Southernwood and French Tarragon hail from. But, we have Artemisias
native to our United States also. Important artemisias like A. tridentata
cover vast areas of Utah, Wyoming and Montana and varieties of A. vulgaris
are found throughout the west. A. tridentata is such an important ground
cover in vast wilderness areas that, after major fires, its seeds are broadcast
to keep noxious weeds from forming in burnt areas.
But, for home gardeners, it is none of these we
choose for our landscape. Rather, it is the foreign bred Silver Mound, Silver
Southernwood and the larger Powis Castle that are used often.
Also, beautiful in
the landscape but seldom used are A. afra, A. palmeri, (San Diego Sage Brush)
and A. arborescens (Tree Wormwood). These are large unthirsty plants that have
trouble fitting in smaller gardens. But, they are truly glorious in the right
Not all Artemisias are lovely. In fact, the one
true culinary Artemisia, French Tarragon, is quite the dog. Ah, but the flavor.
Ugly or undtidy Artemisias we have come to ban from landscaping are A. pontica
(Roman Wormwood), A. frigida (Fringed Wormwood), A. vulgaris (Mugwort), and A.
ludoviciana (Silver King).
Both Roman Wormwood and Fringed Wormwood are scroungy looking for most of the
season. Although Mugwort is an important medicinal herb, it can be terribly
invasive. And, although Silver King is prized by crafters, it too can wander
invasively by underground runners. The Powis Castle Artemisia that we use in our fresh
Wreaths smells great and is a welcome and carefree plant in the garden.
Artemisias are named after Artemis, the goddess of hunting, Artemesia was the daughter of
a Greek Father and a Cretan Mother. She became a Queen and a great naval
captain. She was so successful and respected that for centuries the wives
of the Kings of Halicarnassus were named after her until well into the
fourth century. Kind of like a continual circle of Artemisias. Now there
is a planting idea!
View of Artemisias