Herbs have been cultivated and used for cooking, decoration and medicine for thousands of years. Although once considered a wild and untamed variety of plants, herbs are now commonly used as an integral part of garden design thanks to both their beauty and functionality. From window sills to shrubberies, herbs can be at home just about anywhere. Since herb gardens can be grown quite well in compact spaces, they are an ideal introduction to gardening and can add greenery to any kitchen or container garden.
Perhaps best known to be grown for their use in cooking and medicine, herbs such as sage, thyme, mint and basil are often found in kitchen gardens. Fresh herbs offer a delightful depth of taste and fragrance to many dishes and there is a huge sense of satisfaction in using home grown herbs in your cooking. As well as the standard stock of herbs, look for more unusual types such as lemon sage or chocolate mint which can provide subtle differences in recipes, guaranteed to set your dishes apart from the rest! Once you start exploring the culinary possibilities of growing and using your own herbs you are unlikely to ever return to relying on store bought dried varieties.
When planting herbs indoors, ensure that they are kept somewhere bright, with enough drainage. Like any other small potted plant they will need watering regularly to keep from drying out, but the container must allow for excess water to drain away to prevent the root systems from rotting. Lemon verbena, parsley, chives and rosemary are all herbs that can thrive indoors if cared for properly.
Herb gardens can be a source of beautiful flowers as well as flavours. Herbs such as lavender, anise, chives and yarrow all produce abundant displays of flowers at certain times of the year and can fill your garden with color and fragrance. Some herbs will need to be replaced each year, while others will live and grow indefinitely. Before planting, learn about each herb that you want to use to find out how best to cultivate it.
Like most plants, herbs will grow in relation to the size of the space available to them, meaning that they will stay compact and small in containers but can develop into larger, shrubby plants if allowed to develop in a more open space. When well pruned and cared for, herbs can be a great way to add shape and foliage to your garden design. When planting herbs in your garden outdoors, think carefully about how you want them to grow into your overall plan for your garden. Although it can be tempting to plant a small potted lavender near the edge of your flower bed it can quickly overtake any other plants around it!
Herb gardens are a true thrill for the senses, and a wonderful addition to any garden.