Self-heal is a mat-forming ground cover for the front of the border or the rockery – not often seen but most useful for keeping down weeds. The foliage is dark green and in midsummer the flower spikes appear, each one bearing a cluster of tubular hooded flowers. There are no problems involved in its cultivation – mulch in spring, water during dry spells, dead-head faded blooms and cut the stems down to ground level in autumn. Lift. divide and replant the clumps every two or three years.

VARIETIES: P. grandiflora bears pale purple flowers – basic details are height 9 in., spacing 1.5 ft.

Flowering period: June-July. P. webbiana is quite similar, but the leaves are broader and the tubular 1 in. flowers are available in several colours. The favourite variety is ‘Pink Loveliness’ (clear pink) – others to choose from are ‘Alba’ (white), ‘Loveliness’ (mauve) and ‘Rosea’ (rose-pink).

SITE AND SOIL: Any reasonable garden soil will do – thrives in sun or light shade.

PROPAGATION: Divide clumps in autumn or spring.

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