80207thumbOut in deserts, where vegetation can be a scarce commodity, cacti, agaves and yuccas protect themselves from grazing animals with thorns, spines, caustic sap and distastefully textured foliage. None of these defense mechanisms is perfect. They only need to be better than what the competing specie are using. Many plants find that objectionable flavor and aroma work just fine for them.

The funny thing about the objectionable flavors and aromas that some plants use to discourage grazing animals from eating them, is that these same flavors and aromas are what make so many of them appealing to people. It is ironic that what was supposed to make them distasteful to some is what makes them tasty to others. Yet, it also gets us to perpetuate them in our home gardens.

Mint, thyme, lavender, rosemary and sage, which all happen to be in the same family, are culinary herbs that also work well in the landscape. The mints need the most watering, and containment if their innate invasiveness is a concern. Thymes need less water, and some are nicely aromatic ground cover for small areas. Lavenders and rosemaries can survive with minimal watering here.

Both rosemary and sage are popular for landscaping anyway. Rosemary is most commonly grown as a ground cover that cascades nicely over low retaining walls, but some cultivars are shrubby. Sages are extremely variable. Some are showier than they are useful in the kitchen, with elegant and colorful flower spikes. Others are too strongly aromatic to cook with, but are used as incense.

Fennel and chamomile are often grown in vegetable gardens rather than out in the more refined parts of the landscape because they can get somewhat awkward. Fennel has such nice feathery foliage at first, but if not harvested, it gets tall, and then yellows after bloom. Chamomile gets tall and open in bloom, and then no one wants to ruin it by harvesting all the flowers if it looks too good. Chives are easier to work with. They have so many leaves that no one misses a few taken for the kitchen.

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18 thoughts on “Herbs Add Spice To Life

    1. Mint can be a real weed, and can get invasive. I think it is a nice weed, and would rather have it take up space so other weeds do not grow there. Parley is just the opposite. It must be replaced regularly.

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  1. That’s a good post. I grow and use a lot of herbs, since they add nice flavors to foods. People load their food with salt, which is bad all around. Salt distorts the flavors and herbs just add a nice extra flavor to the food.

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    1. Salt and pepper used to be standard, perhaps because food was not as flavorful as it is now. A few years back, when we had fancy diners, I would put the fancy salt and pepper shakers out; but they got no use. The same salt and pepper has probably been in them since 1990.

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  2. Lovely to read about which herbs grow well in your part of the world. I grow lots of herbs for the kitchen and for their nectar rich flowers, but our cold, wet winters make some of the Mediterranean herbs a bit of a challenge.

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  3. Nice picture – good post… I love growing all those herbs… We get too cold for rosemary and sometimes it doesn’t make it through winter, which I swear didn’t used to happen. I was just kneeling on a groundcover of low creeping thyme cleaning up a bed and enjoying the wonderful fragrance of it… I don’t know which kind it is unfortunately – but it’s one of the flattest and densist and nicest smelling. I had never thought about the fact that wildlife don’t eat these things for the very reason we grow them! Ha!

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  4. I absolutely loved your information in this post! I had no idea that Mint and Lavender came from the same family. I really hope that my blog, which is new and dedicated to earth medicine and spirituality, is as useful to someone as this was to me.

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    1. Many of the herbs are related in that family. It is known for aromatic foliage. I am pleased that you found it to be useful. However, most of my information is horticultural and technical in nature. If you have not yet see the blog of Crooked Bear Creek, you MUST. She writes much more detail about the herbs than I can, including much of the traditional uses for them and historical lore. It is very fascinating!

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