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How to make and Plant a Herb Garden 

A herb garden can be an interesting feature in a normal garden, or you can turn your whole garden over to a herb garden.

There is no mystique about growing herbs. There are herb plants to be found in most gardens these days. Many herbs are now grown for their ornamental use in the garden, and not for their herbal qualities.

Lavender, Rosemary, Bergamot, Hypericum, Salvias, Foxgloves and Evening Primroses are just a few of the herbs that are to be found growing in many gardens for their ornamental use, without any thought being given to their herbal qualities.

An old fashioned herb gardenFor the widest range of plants and colours in a herb garden throughout the year, a more informal garden tends to be the norm. Informal herb gardens normally allow for greater choice of size shape and seasonal colour. With the formal herb gardens, one is normally restricted to smaller herbs - and perhaps fewer varieties to use.

You may have already decided whether or not the whole garden is to be turned into a herb garden, or just a section of it. For the most part, it will be just a matter of choice of what herbs to grow. However, there are a few design criteria to adopt, whatever the plot!

A large container can also be used for making a miniature herb garden, as well as for single subject. Window boxes and tubs of all types can be used.

Planting your Herb Garden - the Decisions

 There are a few things to bear in mind when planting a herb garden, and in particular, how important is the visual aspect; is it to simply provide for the kitchen; do you want herbs for medicinal use; have you explored the idea of an indoor herb garden; do you simply want to use a few herbs in conjunction with other planting schemes.

  • Culinary. If the herb garden is to act as a source of culinary material for everyday cooking, then the edible herbs are best nearer to the kitchen - maybe even in pots, so that they can be bought to hand dependent upon the season. Sages for the winter cooking, whilst basil and chives are normally summer fares. Herb gardens in pots are the best way in which to have herbs to hand in season.

  • Smaller plots can either be formal shapes, or random shapes. There is no set rule. A wide range of herbs can be planted in small plots. Obviously avoid the invasive herbs - such as the mints, or make provision to restrict their root run.

  • Maximum herbal interest, depends entirely on the space you have available. there is such a huge range of herbs, that an large area a dedicated herb garden. All areas of the garden will be suitable for a wide range of herbs to be planted. Shaded areas; full sun; damp patches; dry banks. Whatever, there will be herbs that positively 'thrive' in otherwise inhospitable areas.

  • Mixed Beds incorporating Herbs. Do not be afraid to use herbs in non-herb designated areas. For instance, the flowering Salvias are to be seen in many herbaceous and shrub borders and are invaluable for prolonging the flower season well into late autumn and beyond - dependent upon climatic conditions.

  • Plan the herb garden carefully. Many herbs normally grow in dry, sunny conditions. Planting in rich, moist garden soil can increase their normal growth rate, and may allow lush foliage at the expense of flowers. With herbs, remember - Plants for Places. Use our information to ensure that you use the right herbs for any given situation.

  • Be daring. Herb gardens do not have to be without flower or foliage colour for much of the year. Older herb gardens tended to be based upon those herbs suited for cooking, or perhaps medicinal use. There are many colourful herbs available these days, so be adventurous. Maybe even a few of the Mediterranean herbs can be used. And so many of the plants used in colourful perennial borders are also herbs - Rudbeckia; Verbascum; Monarda; Salvias and Foxgloves are typical examples

  • Herb Hedges . Think  in terms of herbs to use as hedges. Lavender, Rosemary (Jessups Upright) and Hyssop are favourites for small hedges, but Bays (Laurus nobilis) can bake a good clipped hedge at any height - and so very aromatic!

  • Deciduous and Evergreen Herbs, Most herbs are seasonal and deciduous - or even herbaceous - with very little in the way of interest during dormant months. Some are evergreen - such as Lavender, Rosemary, Sages (Icterina and Tricolor) Thymes. List at bottom.

Herbs clipped into formal hedge

Many herbs in common use are annuals - they have to be grown from seed each year. Look on the labels and go for perennials where needed. This is something to be borne in mind when you make a herb garden. Together with this, some attractive herbs such as purple Basil, are not winter hardy outdoors, so can either be bought in during the winter or forfeited!

Herb bed - ornamental and functional
A herb bed, with Thymes, Basil and Angelica

A large herb garden
A classic Herb Garden - RHS Wisley Garden 2008

Tall Herbs for Planting in Larger Herb Gardens..

Bergamot, Angelica, Bay, Inula, Verbascum, Rudbeckia, Echinacea, Salvias, Dill, Foxglove (NOT culinary) Comfrey

Medium Herbs

Basil, Salvias, Lavender, Rosemary, Alliums, Oregano, Calendula, Phacelia, Borage,

Low Growing Herbs for front border and containers.

Thymes assorted, Oreganums - low types such as Thumbles Variety, Sedum, Dwarf Mint, Parsley, Echeveria.

General Advice on how to make a herb garden.

Herbs in Shade | Herbs in Containers | Growing Herbs - Basics



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