Herbs are beautiful multi-functional plants that are easy to grow and have many beneficial effects on our health and the health of our gardens. They look and taste fantastic and they are an easy and cost effective way to add interest to our garden and to our diets. They are forgiving tolerant plants that can survive in the most unlikely of containers, and given the right conditions will thrive in the smallest of spaces.
Herbs are used for a variety of different factors, most commonly including, food, flavouring, medicine, or fragrances due to their savoury or aromatic properties. Nowadays they are also used in some spiritual cases.
They are the best plants to start off with if you are a beginner but also offer challenges for the seasoned gardener. They connect us with many traditions and cultures through millennia and offer interest to every gardener whether your interest is in food, wildlife, flower arranging, or purely ornamental growing, herbs have something to offer.
Our trusted expert, Dr Rachel Petheram has just launched our first Online Herb Course, 'The Herb Garden'. She takes her community of students through a step by step guide on how to grow herbs with personal advice and inspiration on herbs for cooking & cutting. Below she has featured 7 of her most favourite herbs and discusses there many qualities.
Anise Hyssop - Also known as Liqourice Mint
For the Gardening enthusiasts - A short lived perennial that is actually a member of the mint family and flowers through out the summer.
For the Environmentalists - Attracts and is commercially grown for bees who create delicious honey from this pollen.
For the Foodies - Leaves from the lavender plant can be used make a tea and the flowers are a fragrant addition to fruit salads, mashed potato, pasta and sweet herbal syrups.
One of the most versatile herbs to have in the garden; fragrant, ornamental, edible, medicinal and one of the best plants for attracting wildlife.
For the Garden enthusiasts - Thrives in environments that are as close as possible to their hot, dry, native Mediterranean habitats. Good drainage is essential and best grown in full sun.
For the Wellness lovers - Lavender fragrance helps you relax.
For the Foodies - Lavender sugar and ice cream are luscious!
For the Gardening enthusiasts - Great plant for ground cover in a shady place (can be grown in full deep shade) but beware it can be invasive, so be sure to give it lots of space. It likes fairly rich, moist but well drained soil.
For the Appearance factor - Small white flowers will appear in the late spring.
For the Fragrant planters - Fragrant when it dries and smells like freshly cut hay.
For the Gardening enthusiasts - It grows in moist soils in sun or shade.
For the Fragrant planters - Very heady scented plant, very sweet and musky and can fill you garden with scent on a hot summers day. Rank and unpleasant some may say? Just don't go sniffing the roots.
For the Appearance factor - Grows to 4ft with clusters of white and pale pink flowers.
For the Environmentalists - Highly attractive to honey bees, bumbles bees and butterflies.
For the Wellness lovers - Roots are used for herbal medicine for their calming effects and for insomnia.
For the Gardening enthusiasts - Woody, evergreen perennial that needs to be pruned regularly to keep it tidy. Likes fertile, well drained soil in full sun.
For the Appearance factor - Stunning ornamental value with the brightest silver leaves that contrast beautifully with other plants.
For the Fragrant planters - Pungent comfort aroma which is extremely powerful and only released if you stroke past it.
For the Gardening enthusiasts - Grow it in fertile, moist, but well drained soil in full sun or partial shade. Protect them from excessive winter wet. Very long flowering season from early Summer to early Autumn.
For the Appearance factor - Flamboyant, colourful plant with distinctive flower heads representing a shaggy dome of petals.
For the Fragrant planters - Aromatic, spicy scent.
For the Environmentalists - Extremely attractive to bees and predatory insects such as Beatles, insects and spiders. Butterflies and hummingbirds also really love it.
For the Gardening enthusiasts - It's an annual and self seeds freely and will come up in your garden year after year. Prefers a well drained, light, poor soil of chalk or sand is a sunny position.
For the Appearance factor - Flowers are the brightest blue stars.
For the Environmentalists - Attracts tons of bees which will benefit your other plants as well as spiders, beetles and wasps.
For the Wellness lovers - Cucumber scent.
For the Foodies - Cucumber flavour so its at its best when floating in a glass of pimms.