When I was a kid, I found myself scampering around my grandmother’s garden and snacking on green scented plants. Time and time again I found myself gravitating towards ones that tasted best fresh like mint on a hot day. My grandmother was wise and planted them in containers so they didn’t take over her garden. Another nice benefit to having herbs in garden pots is she could move them around her garden and use companion planting principles to deter unwanted insects from attacking her plants. She also deterred deer from entering (due to the strong aromas) by placing them along the side of her fence.
If you are considering garden style options, a Mediterranean style patio decorated with alternating terracotta containers of Lavender (Spanish or English) and Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis would look elegant, and very affordable. A great attribute of terracotta is they come in just about any size. In growing both of these herbs you’ll find they are easy to maintain and drought tolerant. If these plants have been in the same location for years be sure to prune it back or even replace it to reach its fullest potential in flavor and a health.
All varieties of Rosemary have a great selection of foliage and great flavor and aroma for cooking. ‘Barbecue’ Rosemary has very strong, straight stems that make perfect barbecue skewers for vegetable shishkabobs. ‘Tuscan Blue’ Rosemary is another popular flavor where the leaves have a robust taste. This perennial is a fast growing and responds well to pruning well. The best time to harvest is usually early to mid-summer.
If you’re not in the mood for a barbecue but still continuing with the Mediterranean theme an Italian dish could be a good option with Oregano mixed in pasta. Additionally, Basil is an annual but often a good compliment dishes with Oregano.
A tall glass of ice tea with fresh mint leaves is the perfect addition to your barbecue. Mint or Mentha contains around fifty different plant species, including Peppermint, Spearmint, Chocolate or even Apple Mint. Mint acts as a cooling agent by encouraging a cooling sensation to the skin, this is why it makes such great teas on a hot summer day.
Herbs are integrated into many of the foods we love and eat as well as medicines we take without us even thinking about it. Keeping healthy is essential any time of the year. For during those stormy winter months, you might also be interested in Sage. This plant makes a nice herbal tea for relieving a sore throat or cough. When visiting a nursery, they usually have a separate section for herbs so be sure to grab the edible types.
So the next time you are considering your garden layout and design, consider some easy access areas for your herb garden. If you have garden pots near your door you’ll be more likely to use them.
Written by Karen Smith, Lane Forest Products Plant Specialist