Nope, not promoting a rugby team from northern England, but a member of the mint family. Someone recently mentioned the mint family’s aggressive tendencies. Naturally, I felt guilty for condemning an entire family for the sins of a few.
So here is my plug for Phlomis, sometimes known as Jerusalem Sage, and a member of the mint family. It also comes in a yellow (‘John Bowles’). I love the elongated, jagged leaves, strong dark stems and fuzzy tubular bloom arrayed in whorls. I have several plantings of it in my boulevard garden, but this one is doing the best.
[A Gardening aside: My boulevard garden has a series of semi-circular beds that, despite knowing better, I wanted to be identical—that whole rhythmic repetition idea. These beds don’t receive identical amounts of sun, but I’m nothing if not stubborn when it comes to A Gardening Idea. So it took me four(4!) seasons to accept that the first two beds were simply too shady to ever match the growth in the other three. The lesson? None that I know of! (Sadly, only sorta kidding.) Most gardeners learn by their own mistakes. If you’re that rare sort of gardener who can learn from the mistakes of others, however, I’d say plan beds not just with your heart but with your actual conditions in mind and you’ll be far ahead.]
Try some, you’ll like it. Phlomis aren’t aggressive spreaders like Monarda or regular mint. They prefer full sun, but will still flower with some shade.