When I moved here there were two rotten raised beds at the end of the garden, overgrown with forget-me-nots, grass and weeds, including common hogweed, although there was also some deep purple Aquilegia, Rhubarb and several strawberry plants. Oh and some bamboo growing alongside the fence. Anyway, family came down for a visit during which the plot was cleared and new raised beds created ready for me to grow veg and herbs. The veg part didn’t quite work as imagined. Sowing direct just gave the S&S new seedlings to chomp on, and even when I raised seeds in trays and then planted them out as youngsters, they got noshed. The rhubarb continues to be successful and I still get half a dozen strawberries each morning if I am quick enough to get to them before the slugs. But that bed is now my ‘White’ border. A WIP still, but isn’t that always the case in a garden?
The second raised bed is my Herb garden. I have managed to grow kale and radishes successfully here too, but this year it is becoming more what I intend it to be. A bed of scent and smells and bees and butterflies. Some herbs I use for culinary purposes, others I just like to pick a leaf and chew or crush between my fingers and take pleasure from the scented oils as I wander around the garden each morning.
- Variegated sage (‘Tricolor’) – one I grow mainly for the lovely pink, white and green colours it brings me in spring and which I have featured recently, it also flowers with a beautiful clear blue flower that contrasts with the purple bracts. Sage is a strongly scented herb that can be used to flavour many vegetable or meat dishes. Fresh or dried leaves are used to make teas.
- Oregano (Origanum vulgare) – Another one in flower this week. This time a pretty pink. I use this herb when making pizza. It is quite strong when picked fresh and almost bitter, but oh, the smell! Best to use the leaves dried, but I never manage to pick them.
Maybe you should pick the leaves before flowering?
- Lemon verbena (Aloysia citrodora). This one is my favourite. The leaves smell like sherbet lemon or lemon drops! Absolutely fabulous! You can use the leaves and flower tips to make herbal tea, you can chop the leaves up and add to salads or cakes and it has several health benefits too, including protecting muscles, aiding digestion, calming nerves, helping to alleviate congestion and weight loss! Incorporating it into your diet may help you sleep better at night, too. Maybe I should start drinking it! It will grow into a strong bushy shrub which you can cut down by half its size in the autumn. Just look at that lovely dark maroon edging on the new leaf tips. (Click to enlarge image)
- Borage (Borago officinalis) – also known as starflower, bee bush and bee bread, is one I grow for the bees. The bees love borage and if I want bee photos then this is where I go in the garden. The flowers can be used in drinks and salads, they have a cucumber flavour or frozen in ice cubes to make a decorative addition to a G&T or Pimms. The plant is very hairy and the leaves and stems somewhat scratchy and beware it self-seeds like crazy! I pull out hundreds of seedlings in the summer months! It is a good companion plant for growing alongside spinach, tomatoes and legumes. Leaves and flowers do have some health properties, traditionally to reduce fever. (Click to enlarge image)
- St John’s Wort (Hypericum androsaemum ‘Autumn Blaze’) Commonly known as Sweet amber and Tutsan (Tutsan from French patois toute saine, all-healthy) – I am not sure this is the right name, but it is a form of creeping St John’s Wort and has distinctive red tinges to the leaves. Medicinal Properties: leaves and berries diuretic. Leaves have antiseptic properties.
- Golden Marjoram (Origanum vulgare ‘Aureum’) – another one for the pizzas, tomato sauces for pasta and can be used to flavour oils and vinegars. Best eaten fresh and added towards the end of the cooking process. Marjoram has a delicate flavour.
If you are going to use any herbs for medicinal purposes then please make sure you check how to use them correctly. Many herbs can also be poisonous if used in the wrong dosage.
Well that’s my six this week. There are other herbs in this bed, so we might come back and have another look at them later. Meanwhile I hope everyone (not only gardeners) is enjoying the continued warm weather – despite several showers here this week the grass on the hills is looking decidedly yellow not at all like the lush green I have become accustomed to!
See here for the participant’s guide.
Is there only me that doesn’t like the smell of basil? Nothing personal, of course. 🙂 🙂 And is lemon verbena the same as lemon thyme? I suppose not. The only herb I haven’t managed to kill down the years is a tub of mint. Last weekend we were gifted a very healthy looking zucchini plant and I can’t help but think I should be doing something to keep it that way. Apart from sunshine do they like tomato feed or something of that ilk? I did half threaten it with Baby Bio 🙂 Happy Sunday, Jude!
Zucchini? Have you gone all American on me? Needs lots of sun and water. Remember the water! And no, lemon thyme is thyme with a lemon smell and taste, but I wouldn’t mind some of that. I did manage to kill an orange thyme!
J & D > Lemon Verbena is our ab-fab herbal tea : best fresh, but also surprisingly good dried (warm ventilated place and turn occasionally until just crisp). In our experience, all leaves deteriorate in quality as soon as the flowers are polllinated.
Thank you for this. Do you just steep the leaves in hot water then? How many do you need for a cup of tea?
D > Cut one long fully-grown stalk and retire to kitchen. Pull off and dispose of any tired and damaged leaves. Rinse under tap. Pinch fingertips around base and slide them along stalk, stripping off leaves direct into teapot. (Don’t chop leaves.) Add boiling water for 2.5 mugs ; Brew for 5mins. Strainer not required. Sufficient for two mugs.
I will give this one a go (except I have a feeling I no longer have a teapot so shall have to improvise) Might have to buy one of those tea infuser whatchamacallit if it works!!
J > If dried, the amount needed per mug will depend on many factors ; but probably best described as a generous pinch! Strainer will be required!
I shall try it both ways – dried will obviously take more leaves and these are very young plants, so maybe one to try next year.
This one is a beauty. I had no idea herbs were so florally beautiful. I like your noting of all the uses they can be put to too – move over Richard Mabey!
Haha… I have a wonderful herb book by Jekka McVicar and keep thinking I should do a herb series on the garden blog. Herbs are wonderful plants and fairly undemanding!
Your garden must be wonderful. 🙂
I only show the nice bits Elaine and it is a very small garden – displaying it in bits makes it seem bigger 🙂
That’s a good trick! It might be small, but it is packed with plants and colour.
I love growing herbs – I use them a lot in cooking plus they are so pretty. Beautiful photos and I’ve got a few more ideas for additions to my spring herb planting. I think lemon verbena would be a good one to add if I can find it here (always have copious amounts of mint. basil, thyme, sage, oregano, chives and parsley) 🙂
People don’t realise just how pretty they are and when they flower the bees love them too. I need to have a good go at these beds next year and transform them into pretty herb beds. The Golden Marjoram is taking over!
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