Two quite different garden plants bear the name Stachys. The more popular one is a grey-leaved ground cover or edging plant known as Lamb’s Ears or Lamb’s Tongue. Flowers are borne in whorls on upright spikes but these blooms are insignificant – this perennial is grown for its attractive evergreen silvery foliage. The second Stachys is much less commonly seen – Big Betony is grown for the spikes of showy pink or purple flowers it bears in summer rather than for its plain green leaves. All varieties of Stachys hate heavy soils and the flowering spikes should be cut down once the blooms have faded.

VARIETIES: Lamb’s Ears is the common nameforS.lanata(S.olympica) – height 1.5 ft. Spacing 1 ft.

Flowering period: July-August. The leaves are covered in woolly hairs and the pale purple flowers are small. The non-flowering ‘Silver Carpet’ (4 in.) is grown as a carpeting plant. Big Betony is called S. macrantha (Betonica macrantha) in the catalogues – height 2 ft. Spacing 1.5 ft.

Flowering period: May-July. The lilac flowers are large and tubular – the variety ‘Rosea’ produces pink blooms.

SITE AND SOIL: Any well-drained garden soil will do – thrives in sun or partial shade.

PROPAGATION: Divide clumps in autumn or spring.

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