The humble herb is more than just the pot of parsley lost in the corner of your backyard, or the old woody lavender that’s been long forgotten. For many though, this is the extent of their use in home gardens. Herbs can be so much more though! They’re a great way of creating interest in a garden design and can be one of the most rewarding plants to grow. You can grow herbs for food, for flowers, for foliage, as well as for their glorious fragrances, and sometimes for all those reason! So to help you get the most out of herbs in your garden, the first and most important thing you need to consider is this simple question – What do you want them for?
Here’s a few tips to help you get the most of some common herbs in your home garden.
Herbs for food
These are the herbs you’re growing purely for food. Place herbs you’re going to harvest in an easy to access area, where it won’t matter if they’ve been cut down and harvested and look a bit shabby.
Herbs like basil, mint and chives are obvious choices here and can be for a range of cooking dishes. They really enjoy a good cut back for harvesting and won’t mind too much if you go a bit hard.
Putting them in pots or raised garden beds can make access a breeze, and save you bending your back.
Photo ‘2008 herb crop on the patio’ Thomas Kriese, Flickr.
Herbs for show
You may want some herbs to plant for their flowers or colourful foliage and these should be planted in viewing distance from the high traffic areas of your garden, or from windows and doors so that you get the most out of their beauty. Lining your walkways and paths with clumps of different flowering herbs, and using pockets of colour in amongst your other plants is a great way to create an eye catching feature.
It’s best to use waves, clumps and pockets of plantings, rather than straight lines. These are easier to maintain, and add a sense of unstructured order to gardens. Echinacea, nasturtiums, lavender, society garlic, and salvia are herbs with some amazing showy flowers.
If it is structure and order you’re after, you can achieve the famous french parterre style garden design by using more sturdy herbs like rosemary, bay or wormwood and turning them into formal hedges.
Photo ‘Echinacea’ by velodenz, Flickr.
Herbs for smells
Placing herbs with strong and lovely fragrances in beds, planters or hanging baskets in front of windows or upwind from entrances and doorways is the best way to go to ensure these aromas don’t go to waste.
Lemongrass, rosemary, and oregano can fill a breeze with some amazing smells.
Planting some tough ground covering herbs like chamoile and thyme in walkways can be another great way to get some extra scents floating about. Each step will lightly crush some leaves and release their aromatic oils.
By keeping your desired purpose in mind when you’re next planting up some herbs in your garden you can get the most of your hard work and make some herbs a real feature in your home garden.