Marjoram’s Latin name Origanum means ‘joy of the mountains’. There are at least 7 different species of marjoram and many cultivars.
Marjoram is a great value plant for many reasons. Bees and butterflies love it and it flowers prolifically. The flowers are not the most showy but they provide good pale pinks and whites in the border for long periods. Although it is generally recommended for dryish and sandy soils it grows like a weed on my heavy clay.
In the kitchen marjoram provides good flavour in soups, stews and salads and it can be drunk as a tisane. All marjorams, but sweet, knotted marjoram in particular, are great in cheese (especially cream cheese) sandwiches. Marjoram is heavily used in Mediterranean cookery. Sweet marjoram has the best flavour in my view and Greek marjoram is also noted for its flavour. Owing to the strength of the herb all marjorams should be used judiciously in cooking to begin with.
Gerard’s herbal of 1597 prescribes marjoram for those subject to ‘overmuch sighing’. Juliette de Bairacli Levy in her ‘Herbal handbook for everyone’ recommends its use for digestive complaints, sore throats and coughs.
Pot marjoram (Origanum onites) seeds itself freely and will cover any gap in your border.
Golden marjoram is similarly useful and has beautiful yellow/green foliage making a beautiful tight clump early in the year. When it flowers it grows more leggy, as you can see above.
Two particularly attractive cultivars include ‘Acorn Bank’ illustrated above and ‘Country Cream’ with its variegated leaves.