Herbs have been used for centuries, and will continue to be used - all over the world, for the very simple reason, that they have known medical properties, and that generally, they have bought the human race this far in time. They have a variety of uses - culinary, medical and aromatherapy to name a few. There is a bit of mystique about Herbs. We will simply provide the facts.
Herb gardening is again gaining in popularity as it is realized that there is a low maintenance aspect to growing them, and also that many herbs can simply be grown as flowers! Yes! And herbs can be grown almost anywhere; garden; window box; container; windowsill; old boot; sun, shade, dry bank, boggy area.
They actually look nice - either as a self contained herb garden, or used in conjunction with shrubs and perennials. Many of the perennials we know are basically herbs anyway! Anyone can grow herbs. Kids especially, can be introduced into gardening by the simple act of sowing a dish of mustard or cress - and then being allowed to fill their sandwich with the resultant sprouts! It is possible to have herbs in growth for most of the year - flowering throughout the traditional gardening months of March through until October.
There are herbs for almost any situation in the garden, but a specific herb garden should not be overlooked. We will help you how to plan it and then go about it. Herbs are not the dowdy things of years ago. Many ornamental herbs exist - with good foliage effect. Some are evergreen, some deciduous, some herbaceous and some hardy perennial. There are a number of Herbs that can be grown for winter interest and use - as well as the aspect of drying herbs for winter use.
There are of course also annual, biennial and tender herbs. Add to that herbs can be grown indoors in the kitchen, and bought ready-grown from many supermarkets.
One big advantage of herb gardening is the fact that it is so easy to propagate herbs - even Parsley from seed! Herbs are almost universally easy to grow and propagate. They can be propagated from cuttings, seeds, divisions, bulbils, in water, in the green house or in a cold frame.
Herbs rarely suffer from the myriad of garden pests that are attracted to non-herb plants. Aphids are a bit of a problem on new shoots (of everything) but herbs are normally trouble-free. Perhaps that is why many 'herbal concoctions' were so successful in past years for controlling pests on other plants. Nowadays, it is illegal to make your own herbal mixture for pesticide use! It is not illegal to splatter your plants with many man-made chemicals of course!
Herbs are grown the world over for use in cooking and healthcare. They are also grown for their natural beauty! Each continent or country has its own different herbs, but almost always, they are an integral part of the cuisine, health and culture of that country. In the west, we seem to demand that everything that flavours comes out of a pot - rather than something that we put into a pot (cooking). There is herbal life beyond new potatoes with mint or lamb with mint sauce. Open your minds - go forward again to the past! You won't be disappointed.
Read about the History of Herbs
So, learn how to choose and then care for your indoor plant, and you could end up not only please with the result, but healthier as well! Owning -and caring - for houseplants certainly has therapeutic effects not too far removed from the same results of caring for a pet! Stress busters even.
Herbs have a rightful place growing in the herbaceous border, for many of them are dual purpose - the Salvia - sage - group - and of course what herbaceous border would be complete without a few plants of Echinacea or Bergamots growing in them. The rose bed is a natural habitat for either low growing Thymes or lavenders. And any crack in a wall or paving is alright for low growing Thymes or other 'tread-able' treasures. If it’s 'aroma' that you are after, then brushing up against the curry plant - Helichrysum will take a lot of beating.
So! Let's go make a Herb Garden.
This listing will take you to the various herbs with growing advice, and cultural methods. Herbs are rather chaotic in that they have many names - depending upon location and the generation gap. Some of the herb nurseries do not help matters - or their sales - by adding to the confusion.
If you are growing herbs for medicinal or health reason, it is absolutely imperative that you get the name right! For instance, Sage is not simple Sage. It is a member of the very wide ranging Salvia family - some of which can be used for medicinal purposes - some most certainly cannot! Likewise with Geranium! There are hundreds of different Geraniums available - not all are herbs!
Herbal medicine is the safe use of plant and herb extracts for their therapeutic value. Most plants contain and produce chemical substances that aid in healing and other physical treatments.
Proper and safe use of herbal remedies and medicine have been practiced for years. Some plants - Some Herbs - contain deadly poisonous chemicals!
Common names are often used for herbs - by practitioners and gardeners alike. This can cause confusion, for specific herbs often have different common names in different parts of the world - or even in different areas of the same country.
Our List of Herbs on this page is by the commonly used names in western countries. Where possible, we also list the botanical names pertaining to the herbs.
Herb seeds have been discovered in late stone age settlements, and the Chinese described medicinal plants and herbs from as early as 3000 BC - that's five thousand years ago. We probably owe our very survival in no mean part to the knowledge base of advice and information about herbs that was built up thousands of years ago. Much of that herbal advice and information has been preserved by folklore and written word over the centuries.
Herbs were in use even before our own history started! In historical France for instance, as long ago as 13,000 BC, cave paintings have depicted the use of 'plants - herbs' for healing purposes!
As with several vegetables that can be grown for fresh cropping in Winter, there are several herbs that will be suitable for fresh cutting in the winter months. Naturally, you will have to plan ahead a little, and not simply wait until the winter before taking any action!
Several of the herbs suitable for winter use can be grown from seed, but there are also a few evergreen herbs which can be bought into lush growth with a bit of protection.
Herbs Hanging to Dry
Herbs can be dried and used for medicinal purposes throughout the year. This is done by drying the herb foliage or drying the fruits. These dried substances can then be stored for use as dried herb ingredients right through the year. Not all herbs are suitable for drying - or use after drying. Curly Parsley, Coriander and Chervil being three that impart a totally different flavour once dried.
Before you harvest any herb material for drying, make sure that the correct plant has been identified before you attempt so dry it. If you are in any doubt whatever, then do not use the herb for drying - or any other purposes.
Natural essential oils - especially those from herbs - are said to stimulate the brain - triggering a positive reaction. However, bear in mind that chemical constituents of the essential oil are drawn into the lungs and can also have severe consequences. If in doubt, consult your medical practitioner.
Other Uses - Herbal and Essential Oils can supply other benefits such as acting as natural repellents and pesticides. Citronella candles are a typical example of this - keeping mosquitoes and other flies away. Citronella essential oil is the ingredient in candles that provides this benefit.
There is no mystique about growing herbs. There are herb plants to be found in most gardens these days. Many herbs are now grown for their ornamental use in the garden, and not for their herbal qualities.
Lavender, Rosemary, Bergamot, Hypericum, Salvias, Foxgloves and Evening Primroses are just a few of the herbs that are to be found growing in many gardens for their ornamental use, without any thought being given to their herbal qualities.
Lavender Bathroom Products
There are a few simple rules to ensure success with growing Lavender. Follow our advice and read the information and you will be able to grow great lavenders.
In the UK, long term success is ensured if you use the 'traditional' English lavenders - in particular, the varieties (cultivars) of Lavandula angustifolia - The English Lavender is best for growing in the UK - Much hardier!