Hyssop is easy to grow and effective to use. It produces a flush of tiny blue flowers in the summer, producing an aromatic oil helpful for winter coughs.
The name hyssop is said to have come from the greek word hyssopus and the hebrew word azob, both of which refer to a ‘holy herb’ traditionally used for purifying sacred spaces. Much has been written about the biblical references to a soul-cleansing ‘hyssop’, but nobody really knows whether this is the same species we know of as hyssop today.
A member of the mint family, hyssop is a small perennial that grows to around 50cm tall. Sown from seed it flowers in its first year of growth. The stems start to become quite woody within a few years, so although it is a perennial and will live on, it is good to replace with fresh plants once it looks a bit straggly. It is a mediterranean species so prefers full sunshine and well-drained soils, but it is a hardy herb that can cope very well with UK winters.