80627thumbHerbs might be in our garden right now, whether we are aware of it or not. Trailing rosemary happens to be a popular and practical groundcover, and some varieties grow as low shrubbery. A few varieties of thyme also work as ground cover for small areas, or between stones. Various lavenders are popular low mounding shrubbery. Quite a few common landscape plants are also herbal.

It is important to be aware though, that some varieties of herbal plants are better for landscape applications, and others are better for herbal applications. All cultivars of rosemary can be used for culinary applications, but some happen to be grown specifically for that purpose because of superior flavor. Cultivars with the best flavor may not be as useful for groundcover or as low shrubbery.

The same goes for the lavenders. French lavender may be the best for culinary applications, but the various Spanish and English lavenders might be better options for landscape applications, cut flowers or for their aroma. California bay that grows wild as a big tree is actually a completely different genus than the shrubbier culinary Grecian bay, and can ruin a recipe if used as a substitute.

As if that were not complicated enough, once the preferred herbal plants are identified, it is important to know how to use them. Chive, cilantro, parsley, mint and most others are usually preferred fresh. Lavender and bay leaf are more often used dried. Rosemary, oregano and sage can be used fresh or dried, depending on the desired flavor. Almost any herb can be dried for convenience.

Drying herbs is convenient for those that are only available within certain seasons, even if they can be used fresh while in season too. For example, chamomile is not a foliar herb like most, but is unbloomed floral buds that must be harvested at a very specific time. They should be plump, but not completely open. Once harvested and dried, they are useful for herbal tea throughout the year.

Herbs can be flowers, seeds, bark or any part. Most are foliage of the family Lamiaceae.


14 thoughts on “Herbs For Kitchen And Garden

  1. Fabulous Tony. I love herbs in the garden… Just don’t always know the how of use or best preservation. Have you written any old blogs herbs and preparation for storage?

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    1. I have written only a single post about drying herbs, and it was very brief to fit into the limited space allowed by the garden column. (That is why my articles on Mondays and Thursdays are always the same length.) If I need information about herbs, I can find more than I need withing the context of articles written for Good Witch’s Homestead. I do not know how to send you a link, but you can likely find out how to get around at this link:

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  2. You’re talking about my most favohrite plants on the planet! If forced to choose, I’d grow only herbs because of their scents, flavours and as you mention, how wonderful they are simply as garden plants. In my new hot dry garden, sages, creeping thymes, and lavender take centre stage. Lavender seeds itself with abandon here – what a good problem to have! I wish I could have a big bay shrub but winters are too cold.

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    1. As much as I dislike trends, I think that herbs would be a good trend; although it would also be nice if people knew how to use them. When there were a trend years ago, people grew more to brag about growing them, but really did not know what to do with them. Good Witch’s Homestead has been a blast for all the excellent and detailed information about herbs!

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  3. I love using herbs ornamentally in my garden , through the culinary sages continue to vex me. I must have a dozen different Salvias in my garden, but S. officinalis is my nemesis !

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  4. Thank you for all the great information. Herbs are a wonderful addition to the garden. I am just starting to experiment with lavender in cooking; I have some plants with light pink flowers and their flavor seems milder than the purple ones. Even the more cold-tolerant rosemary varieties do not survive the winter here, so they have to go into pots that can come indoors in the fall.

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    1. The light pink lavender might be Spanish lavender. I looks different because the blooms have big ears. I happens to be the more popular of the lavenders here for landscaping because it naturalizes better than the others do.

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