CULINARY, MEDICINAL AND ORNAMENTAL HERBS
A space can be made in every garden for at least a few herbs. Most enjoy a sunny, warm site and, as many are low growing, take up little room.
They look attractive in borders, planted in hanging pots or half wheels, in tubs on warm patios, in window boxes, or on sunny windowsills indoors. Wherever you situate them you can be certain of having a year round supply of fresh pick and pick again herbs.
Unless specifically stated, most herbs need a sunny, well-drained site. Soils such as chalk are ideal for growing fresh herbs.
This leaflet is intended as a quick reference but further information can be obtained from:
- Bed cards and labels where Herbs are displayed.
- A wide range of literature in our books section.
- Our knowledgeable staff who will be pleased to help you.
PRIMARILY CULINARY HERBS
- Angelica: tall, short-lived perennial for damp, semi-shaded position. Useful for candying or cooked, 1oz of fresh Angelica to 12lb of fruit to reduce acidity.
- Balm, Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis): easy to grow, hardy perennial with strongly lemon scented leaves which, when chopped, can be added to fruit salad, custard, soups, etc. A refreshing herb tea (tisane) can be made by infusing the leaves in boiling water for up to 5 minutes.
- Basil (Ocimum basilicum): temperamental annual of several varieties. The leaves have a warm, spicy aroma for use with tomatoes, in soups, beverages and summer drinks, sausages, omelettes, ratatouille, pasta, cheese dishes, salads and pizzas. (WS)
- Bay (Laurus nobilis): perennial shrub or eventually a small tree with dark green, tough and glossy leaves which can be dried and added to soups, stews, casseroles, marinades, fish, vegetable dishes and to milk puddings. Decorative garnish for pate and sweet dishes such as Citrus Sorbet. (WS)
- Bergamot (Monarda): taller herbaceous perennial, the whole plant of which is fragrant and attracts bees and butterflies. One or two leaves can be added to the pot to give Indian Tea a scented flavour. Flowers and leaves dry well for a potpourri.
- Borage (Borago officinalis): easily grown, taller annual with hairy leaves, the scent of which is reminiscent of cucumber and drooping blue flowers which can be floated in claret or Pimms or chopped and added to salads.
- Caraway: taller biennial, the seeds of which are used in cakes, rye bread, some cheeses, pickles, soups and meat and fish dishes. Young leaves and stems can be added to salads.
- Chervil (Anthriscus cerafolium): tender, quick growing annual with Parsley-like leaves which have a distinct fleeting sweet aniseed aroma and flavour. Ideal to add to soups and as a garnish to hors d’oeuvres and salads.
- Chives (Allium schoenoprascum): decorative, mild onion flavoured perennials for snipping into salads, soft cheeses, dips and over buttered potatoes. Delicious in al egg and cheese dishes. (WS)
- Coriander (Coriandrum sativum): feathery leaved annual with clusters of spicy seeds used in curries and casseroles and may be ground over lamb and pork. Leaves good in salad.
- Dill (Anethum graveolens): annual with feathery foliage which adds flavour to fish dishes, stews, casseroles and soups. Seeds can be used in pickles and to make a Dill cheese dip.
- Fennel: short-lived, green or bronze leaved perennial with aniseed flavour for adding to fish, poultry, salad or vegetable dishes. Use instead of Parsley on potatoes. Seeds are delicious added to stir-fry dishes or mixed into bread or biscuits. Good for pickles and chutney.
- Garlic: bulbous plant with cloves which can be cut into slivers and inserted into meat or poultry for roasting, or pounded or pressed and added to sauces and casseroles. A little can be added to salad dressing or bread.
- Good King Henry: low growing, invasive perennial, the leaves of which are a substitute for spinach.
- Horseradish (Armoracia rusticano): taller growing perennial for rich, damp soil, the root of which can be ground to make horseradish sauce with roast beef.
- Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis): perennial, small shrub with tangy, mint flavoured leaves and intense, blue, edible flowers which can be used sparingly to decorate and flavour salads, stews and fruit pies.
- Lovage (Levisticom officinale): strong growing, tall perennial with yeasty flavoured celery-like leaves which can be added to soups, stews and sauces and snipped sparingly over salad, potatoes and other cooked vegetables.
- Marigold (Calendula officianalis): the petals of the pot (English) Marigold dry well and can be scattered on salads and sweet dishes or added to herb cheeses, risottos and paella. N.B. French African Marigolds are poisonous.
- Marjoram/Oregano: many varieties all of which leaves add a warm aromatic flavour to meat dishes and stuffings. Also useful in fish and tomato dishes and in salads.
- Mint (Mentha): large family of herbaceous perennials with creeping roots that need to be restricted. The strongly aromatic leaves are ideal to make mint sauce or jelly, to give a fresh tang to summer salads, to snip over new potatoes, peas and other vegetables. Good to add to dips and soft cheeses, chutneys and relishes and to put into sweet dishes especially fruit salads and ice creams and to add to wine or fruit cups. (WS)
- Nasturtium (Tropaelum major): both the leaves and flowers of this familiar, tender annual can be used to decorate and add flavour to salads. The leaves have a strong peppery taste and are high in vitamin C. The seeds can be pickled and used instead of capers.
- Parsley (Petroselinum crispum): the most popular biennial with flat or fern-like leaves. Good to plant in containers and to use as a garnish with potatoes and in a white sauce. Very nutritious in soups, sauces and stews and as a decorative garnish for fish and meat dishes. Flat leaved French Parsley has a stronger flavour than Curled Parsley. (WS)
- Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis): shrub with spiky, highly aromatic leaves which can be rubbed into lamb, used to add interest to a marinade or for flavouring eggs, fruit, fish or vegetables. (WS)
- Rue (Ruta graveolens): hardy, evergreen shrub which makes a neat, rounded bush. Leaves have a strong smell when crushed and a strong flavour, hence not more than a few finely chopped leaves should be added to sandwiches and salads.
- Sage (Salvia officinalis): shrubby perennial with attractive, coloured leaves which complement strong tasting meats like game, or meat and poultry with a high fat content such as pork, goose or duck. Excellent with onions, fish, cheese and liver. (WS)
- Salad Burnet: neat perennial with leaves that taste faintly of cucumber. Useful for adding to salads and sandwiches instead of cress.
- Salad Rocket: the leaves and flowers can be eaten of this spicy leaved plant that mixes well with lettuce.
- Savoury, Summer (Satureia hortensis): annual with a sage-like taste which is useful in stuffings or with pork dishes.
- Savoury, Winter (Satureia montana): perennial which is excellent in minced meat, stews, omelettes, stuffings and salads.
- Sorrel (Rumex scutatus): perennial with sharp, refreshing lemon flavour. Can be cooked in the same way as spinach or used to make a lemony soup or melted in butter and combined with fromage frais to make a sauce for salmon or other oily fish.
- Sweet Cicely (Myrrhis odorata): perennial with light green, feathery leaves which have a delicate aniseed flavour. Leaves can be chopped and added to salads and added sparingly to rhubarb or strawberries.
- Tarragon (Artemesia dracunculus): perennial with sharp, yet subtle, flavour. Complements chicken and fish and emphasises the sweetness of carrots, parsnips or swedes.
- Thyme (Thymus): low growing, showy perennial with tiny, tough, aromatic leaves and woody stems. Good for adding sparingly in soups and with poultry, meat and game. Essential ingredient for bouquet garni. (WS)
- Verbena Lemon (Lippia citriodora): shrubby, tender plant with lemon scented leaves which make a delicious and refreshing tea.
- Welsh Onion: perennial that is like a giant Chive. The onion tasting leaves can be chopped into salads or used to flavour soups, vegetables and egg dishes.
PRIMARILY MEDICINAL AND ORNAMENTAL HERBS
- Balm, Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis): an infusion of Lemon Balm is helpful for depression, nervous exhaustion and indigestion. It is anti-viral, antibiotic and it promotes sweating – drink Lemon Balm tea at the first symptoms of a cold or chest infection. As a compress, soak a pad in the infusion and apply to relieve sores and painful swellings such as gout.
- Basil (Ocimum basilicum): aids digestion and stimulates the appetite. It is a mild laxative and is also thought to have sedative properties. Being an anti-inflammatory, it will soothe insect bites when rubbed onto the skin. Add 5-10 drops of Basil Oil to a bath to combat mental fatigue or nervous exhaustion. Dilute five drops of oil in 10ml almond or sunflower oil to use as a chest rub to alleviate asthmatic or bronchial conditions. Do not use Oil of Basil when pregnant. (WS)
- Box (Buxus): slow growing, hardy evergreen shrub commonly used as hedging round herb gardens.
- Suffruticosa is the best form for dwarf hedging: plant 12″-15″ apart in sun or light shade.
- Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis): for a steam inhalation, put one or two teaspoons of Chamomile flowers into a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Place a towel over your head and inhale. Oil of Chamomile combats insect bites, itching eczema and heals wounds. Chamomile tea encourages relaxation and aids restful sleep and digestive upsets. Treneague is the non-flowering form and the best for lawns when planted 6″ apart. Do not sunbathe on a Chamomile lawn.
- Chives (Allium schoenoprascum): the leaves and flowers are rich in iron and are a good appetiser for invalids. Good for reducing blood pressure and promoting good digestion. (WS)
- Cotton Lavender (Santolina): shrubby, low growing evergreen with silvery or green leaves which smell of mothballs. Good, decorative hedging plant for a herb garden.
- Curry Plant (Helichrysum italicum): spicily ‘curry’ scented silver leaves which are not edible. Ideal to put in a mixed ornamental planting. The scent is thoroughly disliked by cats.
- Dill (Anethum graveolens): helps to calm digestive disorders, it is good for hiccups and helps to stop vomiting.
- Feverfew (Chrysanthemum parthenum): golden or green leaved perennial said to be effective against migraine attacks.
- Lavender (Lavandula): hardy, perfumed evergrey leaved shrubs of varying heights, frequently used for hedging round herb gardens. Well known for its use in Lavender bags and potpourris and also has antiseptic and insect repellent properties.
- Marjoram/Oregano: stimulates the digestive juices, thus aiding digestion and improves the circulation.
- Mint (Mentha): mint tea relaxes the muscles of the digestive tract and so is useful for curing indigestion and flatulence. It promotes sweating in fevers and influenza and helps relieve migraine. Soak a pad in the infusion and apply to cool inflamed joints, rheumatism or neuralgia. (WS)
- Myrtle (Myrtus): small, evergreen shrub with green, variegated or deep red pungent leaves when crushed. Dried leaves add fragrance to potpourris.
- Parsley (Petroselinum crispum): rich in vitamins A, B and C, iron and valuable organic salts. Useful as a general tonic and said to act specifically as a tonic for the kidneys. (WS)
- Pelargonium: scented Geraniums grown for the fragrance of their leaves which can be dried in potpourris.
- Pennyroyal (Mentha puleqium): flat growing member of the mint family which serves as an insect repellent.
- Sage (Salvia officianalis): said to have a reputation for restoring failing memory in the elderly. Leaves are thought to aid the digestion and an infusion (20g leaves to 50ml of hot water and strain) as a general tonic and liver stimulant or to improve digestive function. It can also relieve night sweats at the menopause. Use a weak infusion for sore throats, tonsillitis, mouth ulcers or gum disease. (WS) Caution – Sage contains Thujone which can trigger fits in epileptics who should avoid the herb.
- Soapwort (Saponaria): pretty, pink flowered evergreen creeper, the roots of which can be used to make soap.
- Southernwood (Artemesia abrotanum): feathery leaved, shrubby perennial used as an insect repellent to keep moths at bay.
- Thyme (Thymus): an infusion of Thyme is helpful for chest infections, stomach chills or irritable bowel. (WS)