Thursday 2 May 2019

Creating a fragrant herb garden

I love growing herbs in my garden. I find it so convenient to be able to cut some for cooking so quickly and easily by just stepping outside. Whilst I primarily use herbs for culinary purposes there's a certain joy in walking through a garden scented by herbs. You don't need a large space to create a fragrant herb garden as so many grow well in pots. Pick your herbs well and you can bring another dimension to your garden.

Rosemary – Established rosemary turns into more of a bush. It is extremely hardy and green all year round. If you wish to pick it then choose the new, less woody shoots. In autumn you can cut stems from the rosemary and propagate them for lots of new plants.

Lemon balm – It smells like exactly as it is called and is the perfect addition to a summer garden. For culinary purposes you can use it with chicken and fish or use in it in cakes. You can also pop it cold drinks. Do be aware that lemon balm spreads very quickly so you may prefer to isolate it by growing it in a pot. I deliberately grow it in a patch of soil where nothing else grows and it does very well.

Sage – I have number of different sages but my favourite is pineapple sage. It has very big leaves compared to a standard sage which help to produce such a fragrant spread. After a harsh winter it may look as if it has died but it does come back in the spring. Later in the year it produces long stems with delicate red flowers on it for a pretty display.

Basil – As a Mediterranean herb basil is much better kept inside in the warm. It can be tricky to grow from seed as it becomes a delicate balance between heat and watering. I've often rescued reduced basil plants from the supermarket and kept them for several months on my kitchen windowsill. I find one of the keys to maintaining basil is to use often but don't snip off the growing shoots at the end.

Lavender – The purple flowers of lavender are attractive enough for it to be part of your garden. Bees also love lavender which is an added bonus. If you are looking for dual purpose lavender that can also be used in cooking then Hidcote is a good variety. With its long stems lavender is perfect for planting so it overhangs paths. When you walk past you'll brush against it and the scent will be released.

Mint – Mint can also be invasive so is best planted in a pot. If you want to plant it in the ground then sink a pot into the soil to stop it spreading. There are lots of different varieties of mint which can vary in taste and use. If you want to have a selection of mints then keep them apart from each other or they will lose their individual scent and flavour.

Thyme – If you put thyme in a sunny spot then you will be rewarded on a warm when the scent of its aromatic foliage fills the air. Its small leaves make a great natural seasoning and particularly good if you are wanting to cut down on salt.

Do you have herbs in your garden? Do you grow them for both fragrance and flavour?

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