Herbs can be annual or perennial and have herbal, medicinal and culinary uses. Many parts of these plants are useful, from the leaves to the roots. They attract pollinators to the garden and often provide food and shelter for insects throughout the seasons. Herbs have been used for centuries and are still an important part of many gardens to this day.
Herbs have a range of culinary and medicinal purposes. They also increase biodiversity and provide a distinctive garden style. Even a small selection of your favourite herbs can prove extremely useful.
What to grow
There’s a great selection of herbs, both common and unusual, from companies such as Kings Seeds, Asian Seeds and Running Brook Seeds.
How to plant
- The majority of herbs are easy to grow, so long as you plant them in full sun with good drainage.
- In shadier parts of the garden, try Vietnamese mint (Persicaria odorata), soapwort (Saponaria officinalis) and burnet (Sanguisorba minor).
- Grow mint in a container (e.g. a pot or partially buried container in the ground) as it sends out extremely vigorous runners that will spread throughout the garden.
How to grow
- Add organic matter such as compost or green crops to the soil regularly and especially prior to planting or when dividing. See Healthy soils for details.
- Maintain the health of clumping herbs such as thyme and oregano through division in autumn/winter.
- Cut back herbs when dormant in winter.
- Some herbs are best when renewed every few years from cuttings, such as rosemary. Annual herbs are raised from regular sowing of seed, such as parsley, coriander, marigolds etc.
Top image: French lavender (Lavandula dentata)