Six on Saturday | Herb Garden

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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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?
  3. 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)
  4. 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)
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Six on Saturday


  1. fredgardener says:

    As you read last week I also grow lemon Verbana. Have you tried cold herbal tea ( with ice ) ? Not me but with this weather it’s an idea that I have tonight!
    Nice close ups and good translation for “Tutsan”

    1. Heyjude says:

      Ice tea sounds good Fred, I shall have to experiment.

    2. Heyjude says:

      Took the macro lens out for some of these photos, that’s why they are so close up. I went to capture a tiny spider who will feature sometime this week 😀 I know you are also a fan of macro photography.

      1. fredgardener says:

        I’m trying…😉

  2. I’m intrigued by your lemon verbena tolerating being cut down before the winter. Is it perennial where you are? I usually lose mine over the winter but strangely this year mine ha survived and got much bigger even though it was a cold winter.

    1. Heyjude says:

      I’m sure it is a perennial. I haven’t had to cut mine down yet as it is a young plant, but growing well this year. Cutting it back may help it to bush out a bit more.

  3. And I love your idea of herbs just for the beauty of them. I hardly ever use them for cooking but love to have them around to touch and to smell like you do. Purple basil is a great one for that too.

    1. Heyjude says:

      I’d love to get some purple basil. I did grow a variety of basil indoors last year successfully. Outdoors not so good.

  4. Ali says:

    Such a wealth of knowledge here, Jude. Love it.

    1. Heyjude says:

      I have always been a bit of a herb fan! Though I often forget to use them 🙂

  5. Lemon verbena, just think of it and smile!

    1. Heyjude says:

      Very true 🙂

  6. Jim Stephens says:

    I nearly always take pictures of whole plants and your close ups are just as informative, if not more so. I should use my macro more.

    1. Heyjude says:

      I love my macro lens. Whole plants are great for seeing the overall picture or for ID purposes, but macros show you something different that you probably don’t even notice.

  7. I love your herbal photos. Had almost forgotten about lemon verbena; it’s been so long since I’ve had any or even seen a plant here in Atlanta. It used to be a mainstay of my tea garden plants, and I would dig up my lemon verbena plant every year to bring inside and overwinter. Tulsi (holy basil), monarda didyma and anise hyssop round out my other tea leaf plants (and mint!). . . Also, I did not know that there is a creeping form of St. Johnswort and will keep my eyes open for that! It’s always so interesting to see what herbs look like growing in different parts of the world. My oregano and marjoram (not a golden form, admittedly) look very dissimilar to yours. I “harvest” mine for drying whenever I am clipping the overgrown branches to get them out of the garden walkways, bring those branches inside and let them dry on the table, then strip the dried leaves off into a bowl and store in glass jars. I dry all my herbs this lazy way. Several years ago the oregano flower question was answered for me by a storekeeper from Greece. I noticed that his oregano packages contained whole branches of dried plant with what appeared to be large flower heads and even seeds. I asked him if the flower heads and seeds were intended to be used in the sauce, and he answered that the inclusion of the flowers and seeds were what made those packages of oregano a specialty item. They were what added the most flavor, he said. I bought a package (way out of my price range) and promptly took it home to plant the seeds.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Thank you for that information, I shall try drying some of the herbs this year then – flowers as well! Certainly hot enough in my conservatory at the moment to dry them!

  8. Lovely six. I grow several herbs but, as with yours, the insects enjoy them more than I do. I evicted borage a couple of years ago, toooooo promiscuous.

    1. Heyjude says:

      I am starting to realise that about the borage – worse than the forget-me-nots that are now beginning their come back!

  9. Lucid Gypsy says:

    Lemon verbena has a heavenly fragrance doesn’t it? and borage is just a delight.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Borage is a bit of a thug really, though the flowers are quite something.

  10. Joanne Sisco says:

    Perhaps this is example of me being too literal … but it would never occur to me to plant a herb just because it’s a pretty plant! If I grow it, it’s because I use it a lot! You’ve caused me to reconsider next year’s garden – especially the sage. The dried version has never appealed to me in cooking but I will have to look at it again, if only because it’s so pretty.

    1. Heyjude says:

      I’m not a sage fan either Jo, but I do like herbs in the garden and they are mostly S&S resistant, though I have discovered snails are happy to hide underneath the leaves during the day! Sneaky things.

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