The great thing about Herbs is that they can be grown practically anywhere in the garden, but best in the sun. If grown in free draining soil, they will reward you with a delightful display of aromatic and colourful foliage. Little wonder that more and more of us want to start discovering the culinary delights of freshly cut Herbs direct from our own garden.
Whatever your interest, growing herbs is easy, and only a little planning is all that is required in order to maintain this perennial garden delight. Every garden deserves an herb garden, even if this means a few pots or tubs, or simply a window box crammed with parsley, thyme and chives.
Although some herbs like Rosemary or Fennel can grow happily for years, most need to be renewed every 2-3 years, whilst others like Sage or Dill can be grown from seed or cuttings each year.
But how many herbs do I require to start an herb garden? Some herbs like fennel grow quite big 1500 mm tall whereas parsley or thyme will not grow taller than 150 mm - 200 mm. Best to go for a head start, so buy some young herb plants rather than seeds, at least that way you won’t end up with twenty of the one variety! Pick a sunny site and start planting! For the smaller varieties consider planting more than one, but this will depend on personal choice.
So what do I use to stock my new Herb garden? Well there’s a huge range, but select varieties you will use and enjoy. Here’s a list of the more popular varieties:
Parsley (available in various varieties flat leaf and curly leaf) use both types in a range of meat and vegetable dishes. A small plant.
Thyme, fabulous aroma and used to flavour almost any dish. A small plant.
Chives, a very small but simple to grow herb. A real easy ‘cut and come’ plant, simply use fresh chives to add a mild onion flavour to food and salads
Mint – spearmint or Bowls mint (this plant can be invasive, to control root spread/growth, plant in a plastic tub in the ground)
French Tarragon is a delicate upright plant, but excellent for flavouring fish, salads etc.
Green Sage, great with stuffing’s and Pasta
Fennel a very hardy large self seeding plant. Used to flavour a wide range including fish, eggs, cheese, vegetables etc. The leaves and bulb have a lovely aniseed flavour which is popular with many.
Lemon Balm used in iced drinks and hot teas. Like mint, can spread rapidly so plant in a container in the ground.
Golden Marjoram can be used in meat stuffing’s. Oregano, add to all Italian style sauces.
Dill, very popular herb with the leaves and seeds used to flavour pickles, cucumber and fish dishes. A tall plant with feather like foliage.
Chervil, a little similar to Parsley in appearance with a delicate spicy fragrance and used in soups, sauces and salads.
Basil or Sweet Basil, is a pleasant smelling annual plant with a spicy taste. Great with all tomato dishes.
Rosemary fantastic to flavour Lamb, poultry, roasted or barbequed.
Bay with its aromatic leaves is a very large plant and popular to add flavour to a number of dishes including fish, soups and especially French casseroles. Don’t forget to discard the leaves before serving food!
Sometimes the Herb garden can look a little jaded over the winter months. To avoid this why not add a little more structure by planting the perimeter with Buxus Sempervirens, which can be clipped tightly to provide an all year round smart green planted perimeter. Use Bay Leaf Standards or Mopheads to add a formal look and visual interest at head height. Plant you favourite herbs inside the perimeter. Remember herbs are best grown in a sunny location and if used in Kitchen, plant near House. If space is limited, you can also plant herbs in amongst the shrubs or in containers. Plant in groups of 3-5 for added impact.
The author is a leading Garden Designer and Landscaper based in Dublin, Ireland. For more information about company and inspiring aspects of landscaping, visit: