Once reserved for royalty, the color purple today is associated with spiritual enlightenment and mysticism. In design, purple is considered both a warm and cool color, eliciting a sense of intimacy and relaxation like you might experience while watching a sunset. In the landscape, purple extends an invitation to come closer for a better look. If you’re passionate about purple, there are lots of perennials to capture every shade in your palette.
Low-growing, compact plants like purple ice plant (Delosperma cooperi "Purple Ice Plant") form a spreading carpet perfect to accent rock gardens, stone walls and walkways in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 9. This succulent plant is called “ice” because the cellular structure of the needle-like leaves causes them to glisten. “Bellflower Dalmation” (Campanula “Bellflower Dalmation”), hardy to USDA zones 4 through 8, is a bit taller with an average height of 6 to 9 inches and produces star-shaped violet flowers from mid-summer into fall.
“Purple Rain” Salvia, a cousin to culinary sage, is a dense bed and border plant that thrives in average soil and full sun in USDA zones 3 through 9. Tall spikes support whorled blossoms of deep purple, which bloom from early summer into fall. Gayfeather, also known as blazing star (Liatris spicata “Kobold”), makes a bold impact with tall, purple flower spikes that open in late summer. This cultivar requires full sun and moist, well-drained soil and performs best in USDA zones 4 through 9.
No fragrance garden would be complete without an assortment of lavenders, such as English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) for USDA zones 5 through 9, or “Munstead" (Lavandula angustifolia "Munstead") in USDA zones 4 through 9. The key to growing these mounding shrubs is excellent drainage and protection from cold temperatures. In addition to cut flowers, fragrant lavender is used to make potpourri and sachets to scent linens and drawers. "Walker's Low" catmint (Nepeta × faassenii "Walker's Low") is another mounding plant suitable for USDA zones 3 through 10. The fragrant leaves and purple flowers attract butterflies, hummingbirds and, as the name implies, nearby felines.
Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) is a member of the mint family grown in full sun and well-drained soil in USDA zones 4 through 11. The leaves can be eaten in salads or added to baked goods, while the sweet, licorice-like flowers can be used in tea blends. The flowers of "Purple Rooster" bee balm (Monarda didyma "Purple Rooster") can also be enjoyed in baked goods and teas. Another long-lasting bloomer in the mint family, bee balm performs well in average soil and full to partial sun in USDA zones 4 through 9.