In the herb garden at the moment, the highlight (with the emphasis on 'high'!)is definitely the valerian which is in beautiful full bloom. The whole plant just took off this year and now towers high above the fence and after last weeks stormy weather I've had to tie it in a bit, but I find it rather glorious. The blossoms are white tinged beautifully with pink and give off a heady scent. The tiny little flowerlets shower all over the plants and paving below like stardust, a white sprinkling making everything around it slightly magical. The air is full of the sound of bees, which can't get enough of it. It wasn't so much an attempt to photograph a bee on a valerian head, as that you can't take a photo of a valerian head without a bee getting into the shot!
Now valerian was really a bit of a mistake for me. Back when I was starting out I read about it and its properties and got excited and wanted to have some to grow .. before I read further and realised that you would only want to use the root, and even that only dug at the right time of year in the right year of its growth. As I have always had such a small garden (only a collection of window boxes when I was beginning) it was important that each plant earn its place - beautiful, useful and preferably multi-purpose. So it doesn't really qualify.
But the thing about valerian is, it doesn't give up. I think it might be one of those plants that once you've got it, you've got it forever! One of the limitations and joys of my rooftop garden in Tottenham was that it just got left from October to March each year. During this time, I handed the baton over to mother nature who would handle the gardening for me till the next spring. She taught me all the most important lessons I have learned about plants and gardening and she always left me lots of little baby plantlets for the following year. Most of these would be valerian - it seeds itself all over the place. All these little valerians taught me something, because the colour of the leaves would be completely different in different parts of the garden - so it was showing me how conditions varied, the conditions it liked and how they affected its growth.
Think its probably safe to say its got the right conditions in the new herb garden! I saw earlier in the year that it was bullying other plants out of the bed, but I've let it flower. It has such thick tall strong stems that it supports other herbs around it - in particular a beautiful bronze fennel that grows up through it. And later in the year, once its heyday is done, its tall skeleton will be handy for tying in the evening primrose next to it which doesn't take off until much later.