I liken herbs to edible plants with training wheels. They are really easy to grow and fit into most any landscape. All in all, they are a great place to start if you’re new to gardening with edibles. Furthermore, they will bring your cooking to a new level. Fresh herbs outside the kitchen door are every chef’s dream, and it can be yours too. Start with sage, oregano, fennel, winter savory, chives, thyme, lemon thyme, and tarragon. In warm winter areas add rosemary and if it’s summer add annual basil; for fall plant cilantro instead. Herbs can be added to an existing shrub border and flower garden, tucked into a raised bed with your vegetables, and they all grow well in containers.
This is my welcoming herbal entry. I planted two garlic chives, one on each side; added a planting of regular chives; and for the containers I chose gold, tricolor, and purple sage; lemon and English thyme; and rosemary. Nasturtiums and ‘Lemon Gem’ marigolds are planted along the walk for color and two standard purple Potato Vines frame either side of the walk to add a formal feel.
My neighbors asked me to convert their small front yard, primarily a lawn planted on a slope, to a culinary herb garden. We replaced it with flowering perennials and easy-care shrubs on the slope, and selected thymes, rosemary, oregano, and chives planted near the level front walk. Stepping stones placed here and there make it easy to harvest the herbs and gives design to the planting areas. Now they can dash out of the kitchen for their herbs and have a cheerful garden that is easy to maintain.
Herb leaf colors range from gray, to green, to yellow, to purple, and include bi-colors too. Here I chose variegated lemon thyme and bi-colored oregano for the front of the bed. I then selected golden sage for the wooden container, and the upright Italian herb nepetella, spiky garlic chives, and the colorful lavender for the middle of the bed. Yellow violas and calendulas, and purple pansies add their rich colors and a ferny fennel lends a soft green background to the scene.
Herbs are at home in a mixed border and glamorous enough for the front street-side border. The sculptural collards anchor this colorful border. Prostrate and upright rosemary nestle up to the collards. Directly behind them is a purple basil, and behind it is a golden sage, some bronze fennel, and a yellow rose. Among the edible herbs are the non-edible yellow and red lantanas and geraniums.
This herb garden lends a yen-like peace to my back patio. A venerable old rosemary sets off the birdbath. Planted among the non-edible geraniums and million bells are a number of different thymes, a knotted marjoram, lavender, and Chinese chives. Horseradish and sage are planted in containers.