How to Choose and Grow Herbs

There are many reasons to grow herbs. Essentially to merit a place in the garden a herb really needs to fulfil three requirements. Firstly it needs to be something you want to eat. Secondly you want to be able to enjoy its scent and thirdly to enjoy looking at it. Fortunately there are a vast number of herbs that deliver on all three planks of this manifesto. What is more herbs are really easy to grow. Most enjoy a sunny site and good drainage. They actually prefer to struggle a bit and do not require much nurturing and feeding.

 

Thyme
Perhaps the herb that most closely fulfils these three criteria. There are so many varieties available. They are really useful for softening the edges of walls, paths and containers. They have attractive flowers and a lovely scent and they encourage bees. They like full sun and well-drained soil and can be cropped throughout the year.

 

Sage
The common garden Sage is Salvia officianalis which is shrub like in shape and has grey green leaves. Purple Sage makes a lovely contrast as does the Golden Sage and Tricolour Sage which has cream borders to its green leaves and a hint of pink.

 

Rosemary
A herb that brings to mind either images of the Mediterranean, where it grows wild, or a picture of a nice roast leg of lamb scored with garlic and springs of Rosemary. It is evergreen and produces attractive blue, pink or white flowers. It also makes a lovely fragrant small hedge but it needs a trim after flowering to keep it in shape.

 

Bay tree
Ultimately Bay trees can reach about 14ft. They can also be trimmed into pyramid, balls and a myriad of other shapes. Especially if growing a Bay tree in a container, give it a good high nitrogen feed in spring to help promote lovely new deep green leaves.

 

Parsley 
The flat leaved Parsley seems to have most flavour. Parsley goes against the norm for a herb by preferring a moist shady site. It is biennial so it is a good idea to sow fresh seed each year or buy new plants. The younger leaves have more flavour. Parsley can be potted up and taken indoors for the winter or seeds can be sown in the greenhouse or conservatory in mid-summer for a winter supply.

 

Coriander
Also prefers a moist spot. It has fantastic peppery flavoured leaves that are great to add a bit of bite to salads. The plant produces round brown seeds which can be harvested and used over the winter. Ideal for Carrot and Coriander soup.

 

Basil
Another culinary favourite and has a wonderful and almost a lime green colour which is most striking. However it is very tender and cannot be grown outside until the danger of frost is over. Until then a pot on the window sill has to serve.

 

Mint
A mixed blessing, a must for the kitchen but something of weed in the garden. It is best grown in a container to prevent it from spreading.

For a real blast of scent grow Hyssop, Lemon Balm, Marjoram, Lavender and Oregano.

Whether you have a herb garden complete with Rosemary hedges and Chamomile lawn or just a herb pot on the patio, herbs are a delight to be savoured for their scent, beauty and taste. Who could ask for more from a plant?