Herb Garden

Garlic chives come into bloom beside Thyme and a Muscadine grape vine.

Garlic chives come into bloom beside Thyme and a Muscadine grape vine.

“My love affair with nature is so deep

that I am not satisfied with being a mere onlooker, or nature tourist.

I crave a more real and meaningful relationship.

The spicy teas and tasty delicacies I prepare from wild ingredients

are the bread and wine

in which I have communion and fellowship with nature,

and with the Author of that nature.”

Euell Gibbons

 

 

August 19, 2014 lavender 032

Garlic chives remain one of the easiest of herbs to grow.  Plant in full sun, keep them moist, and they will grow indefinitely.  A perennial herb, the stand of chives grows a bit larger each season.  All parts of the plant are edible, and leaves can be snipped year round to season in cooking.  Chives are especially nice mixed with cream cheese or sour cream.  Their flowers may be cut for arrangements, cut and used as a garnish, or left to delight the bees.

Thyme grows as another spreading, perennial herb which enjoys full sun.  It blooms sometimes in summer, and it is a favorite for cooking.  A good cheese spread may bee made with chives, thyme leaves, and perhaps a little garlic, minced Rosemary, and freshly ground pepper.  Mix these into any combination of soft cream or goat cheeses.

Grape leaves make tasty wraps for various fillings.  Our favorite are Greek dolmades, which are stuffed with a mixture of rice and herbs, then steamed.  Grape leaves may be eaten raw in salad or added to sandwiches.

 

Basil grows here beside scented Pelargonium.

Basil grows here beside scented Pelargonium.

Basil leaves remain our favorite summer herb.  Eaten raw on a sandwich, pureed into pesto, or cooked with tomatoes, their distinctive flavor sings “summer,” even when enjoyed in February.  Their flowers are edible and may be enjoyed as cut flowers or as a garnish.  Stems of  Basil, mixed in with other flowers in a vase, perfumes the entire room.

Basil

Basil

Scented Pelargoniums are not only edible, they dry beautifully.  Lemon, orange, or rose scented geraniums, as they are called, may be added to home made mixes for tea, used as flavor in baked goods, or may be dried and preserved for their fragrance. Their flowers are edible and may be used to garnish cupcakes.  Some Pelargoniums survive the winter for us in Zone 7B.  They die back to the ground, but will sometimes come back from their roots in late spring.  They are happiest in full sun with moist soil.

Chocolate mint in bloom

Chocolate mint in bloom

Plant all of the mints in full sun.  They prefer moist soil, and will spread madly over a summer.  Every part of the plant may be eaten fresh or dried.  Used mainly to flavor beverages, mints are wonderful fresh or dried in tea.  A stand of mint in bloom remains busy with every sort of bee and wasp enjoying the feast of nectar.  This chocolate mint has beautiful, distinctive foliage and smells like minty chocolate candy.

Pineapple Sage, Pineapple Mint, and Rosemary enjoy this end of the butterfly garden where they get sun.  All appreciate moist soil, and will return each spring.

Pineapple Sage, Pineapple Mint, and Rosemary enjoy this end of the butterfly garden where they get sun.   All appreciate moist soil, and will return each spring.

A garden may be appreciated by all of our senses, including taste and smell.  These wonderfully fragrant herbs contain healing oils and compounds, in addition to their delicious flavors.

Although not a traditional vegetable garden, an herb garden allows us to consume a bit of what we grow and use the plants in many different ways.

Salvia officinalis, 'Tricolor' is delicious.  This perennial culinary herb is added to many savory dishes.  Individual leaves may also be fried in butter or olive oil  and used as a tasty garnish.

Salvia officinalis, ‘Tricolor’ is delicious. This perennial culinary herb is added to many savory dishes. Individual leaves may also be fried in butter or olive oil and used as a tasty garnish.

Whether bringing cut herbs and flowers indoors to enjoy, making sachet packets to keep moths out of our drawers,   blending our own tea, or cutting herbs to add to our food; we come to know these beautiful plants better through frequent use.

Salvia officinalis, 'Berggarten'

Salvia officinalis, ‘Berggarten’

Perennial herbs generously offer themselves up season after season, and once planted, remain with us so long as we tend the garden.

Rose scented Pelargonium with Pineapple Sage and Rose

Rose scented Pelargonium with Pineapple Sage and Rose

*

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

 

 

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About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

6 responses to “Herb Garden

  1. Lovely herb garden! Can I ask what zone you are? I started garlic chives from seed this year but I’ve left them in pots. Thought they’d make a nice accent.

    Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

    Caroline

    • Hi Caroline,

      So glad you enjoyed the herbs 😉 We certainly do. We are in Williamsburg, VA, Zone 7b. Most winters it is more like an 8b, which is just a few miles down the road in Virginia Beach. We had a cold winter last year, so our Rosemary was damaged more than I’ve ever seen in previous winters.
      What zone are you in? Chives are pretty hardy, with a big root system. We actually have several little clumps blooming now out of a crack between that planter and the driveway! They grew from seed dropped last summer, and are such a nice surprise! Hope you have enjoyed your weekend. We have had a very nice one so far, thank you. Thank you for visiting Forest Garden today. Best wishes, WG

      • Thank you for your sweet reply and visiting my blog! I’m in New Jersey – technically a zone 6A, but occasionally a B if I’m lucky. I lost so many plants over last winter – such a disappointment – that I’m being extra cautious now. But I did look up garlic chives after reading your post and they say Zone 4 so I should be in good shape. I’m debating just sinking the pots and mounding a bit of straw over them (and then crossing my fingers of course!). And so sorry about your rosemary. That’s one that I have to keep in a pot and over winter in the house no matter what. It just won’t make it here no matter what I try 😦

        Enjoy the week!

        Caroline

        • Hi Carolyn,

          Your idea of sinking the pots should work fine, especially if you do it in a sheltered area. Another idea would be to dig a small trench and layer in some compostable materials, set your pots on top of the leaves, etc., and then fill in around them with soil. Topping off with straw will break the wind and give additional insulation. The decomposing materials below will generate some heat… The indications here seem to point to a colder winter coming than last. Guess we’ll know by May 😉 Best wishes, WG

  2. Beautiful collection of herbs, WG. 🙂 We were overrun with mint here last year. It must have been let go for at least a decade as it took over an entire section of the property. I’ve got it somewhat under control now, but it will probably continue to pop up all over the place. Have you planted rosemary? I’ve been wondering if that will winter well here.

    • Hi Robin,

      Better mint than poison ivy 😉 Do you use the mint? A friend makes a wonderful beverage with mint, sugar, and vinegar which is used in really hot areas of Asia to recover from the heat. It takes a lot of mint to make it 😉 Rosemary generally makes it through our winter. It was badly damaged last winter, but all of the established plants have rebounded. I lost a few which were less than 2 seasons old, but the big ones all survived. Loved your green post. All of the photos looked so cool and moist! Best wishes, WG

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