Thyme for herbs!

Create your own culinary herb garden that looks almost too good to eat!

Try planting a selection of tasty herbs valued as much for their ornamental appeal as their flavour. From sage to thyme, rosemary to clipped bay and flowering chives, combine herbs valued for their ornamental beauty to produce long-lasting displays as well as regular pickings for the kitchen.

Low-growing thyme is a herb garden favourite, perfect for making a herb carpet, softening the edges of gravel paths, or filling gaps between paving. With flavoursome foliage in greens, silvers and golds, plus colourful flowers too, they’ll look good and provide pickings all year. Try flavouring casseroles, soups and sauces with homemade bouquet garni made from sprigs of thyme and parsley wrapped in a bay leaf.

Alternatively other herbs can be added to suit your culinary creations, such as rosemary, basil, chervil or tarragon. Herbs have so many uses from using fresh in cooking, making pesto, infusing into herb oils and vinegars, or making herb teas.

Whether adding to salads, cooking with new potatoes, or making herb teas, mint is a versatile herb with many uses. Their colours and flavours vary immensely from powerful peppermint and spearmint to those with an underlying taste of apple, citrus, banana, red berries, and many more. And for chocoholics everywhere there’s even Chocolate Peppermint with a hint of dark chocolate. Irresistible! (Just remember that mint is one herb that’s always best kept contained to prevent it invading your borders, so grow it in a pot or large bottomless bucket.)

Top tips for successful herb gardens:

  1. Although many herbs are of Mediterranean origin and relish hot dry conditions, to get the best from herbs in pots most require regular watering to prevent their compost drying out completely. Try standing pots in saucers of water so pots can take up moisture as required.
  2. Add fertiliser to one watering a week to keep plants growing strongly, or mix slow-release fertiliser granules into compost at planting time.
  3. Regular picking some herbs, like basil, encourages side shoots to form, keeping plants bushy and productive.
  4. Pick and dry the leaves of herbs like thyme, sage, bay and many others to store and use when cooking.
  5. The flowers of many herbs can be used to brighten summer salads. Use flowers from chives, basil, coriander and thyme.
  6. Coriander has a habit of bolting or running to seed, but enjoy their flowers as they’ll encourage beneficial insects, like hover-flies, into your garden. Let plants set seed, then collect and dry coriander seeds to grind and use when cooking spicy Indian dishes.