Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Herbs, herbs and more herbs

The other day I showed you many of the potted herbs I have. Today I want to show you some of the less glamorous but more practical ones.

On one side of my garden there is a larch-lap fence belonging to my neighbour. It's not very pretty, but it provides good shelter and I have strung along it some horizontal wires to support my Raspberry canes. Between the Raspberries and the first of the raised beds is a line of culinary herbs, currently looking quite compact but later in the year they will get a lot taller and will spread out a lot.

In the view above you can see Oregano,Thyme and Rosemary, and of course Raspberries against the fence. (Shame about the view of the wheelie bins and the "Dalek" compost-bin...)

Young Raspberry canes - Autumn Bliss

Young Marjoram with Lemon Balm at left of picture

Oregano with Thyme at rear left

Also in the border (just behind the place where I took the first photo) there are a couple of clumps of Good King Henry. These days, with so much else available, I tend not to use the GKH, but keep it just for interest because I like the shape and texture of its leaves.

Good King Henry

It needs very little maintenance and tolerates poor site and soil conditions. The place where this one is growing is dry sandy soil under a conifer tree, yet it still comes up year after year.

Good King Henry

About the only other thing that will grow in such conditions is Comfrey, although I would also have to say that Comfrey prefers moister soil.  I use it for making Comfrey "Tea" as a plant food. This plant also has a fascinating leaf texture, doesn't it?

Young Comfrey leaves

Next along after the GKH and Comfrey are my two Fennel plants, currently putting out lots of complex and delicate new leaves.

Bronze Fennel

While photographing the Fennel I noticed this tiny volunteer Pea plant near it - must be from a pea that I put out for the birds to eat earlier in the year, when I was disposing of all my old seeds!

The Lavender is covered with soft new growth too. I grow Lavender purely for ornamental purposes, though you can use it in the kitchen. Some people use it for flavouring things like biscuits or sugar, but I'm not keen on the taste. To me it seems "antiseptic".


This is one herb that I really don't recommend planting in the open soil - Mint. If you allow it to, Mint will spread very rapidly and take over the whole garden. It's better kept in pots.

Moroccan Mint

Mint is the traditional accompaniment (in the form of Mint Sauce) for roast Lamb, which is firmly associated in our food culture with the season of Spring. Next after Parsley, this is our most frequently used herb.
Parsley. Yes, for me that's a problem. Without devoting all six of my raised beds to the task I could probably never hope to keep pace with the demand for it in our kitchen. I do grow a little of it, usually in pots, but it's never enough, so we have to buy it.


Apart from some seeds that have only just germinated, that paltry little pot of it is all the Parsley I have in my garden at present!

Finally, a picture of my Chive supply. That's a bit more like it!



  1. There is always so much to admire and be jealous of!

    My raspberry canes have shown no sign of life.
    And my chives are yet to surface.

    However- my parsley is already very respectable!

  2. Hi Mark,

    I’m going to give Good King Henry another go this year as I have some seeds. Not that impressed with the leaves raw but delighted to see when I searched your site that you had a tastier outcome when you cooked it in your recipe with Butternut squash. So provided I’m successful-I’ll give your recipe a try later on in the Summer!

  3. Snap - just done a herby post myself - it's lovely to see all the fresh leaves - even if I didn't use them for cooking - I would still grow for the fragrance

  4. Great post on herbs Mark. Your lavender looks so green! I have two lavender plants I bought some eight months ago and just one plant that I propagated from stem. Although the plant is thriving beautifully since I pruned it in the fall the leaves on the stem on my lavender plants have dried. Also they have not flowered yet. Anything I can do to help my plants set flowers without killing them?

  5. How do I know that's not a real Dalek? Exterminate! Herbs are indeed beautiful even without considering their uses. Your chives look very handsome in their pots.

  6. I'm not a big parsley eater so I usually grow more than I use. I eat more cilantro than parsley by far.

  7. I have gotten a few more herbs planted just last weekend.

  8. Really a good show of herbs. Happy cooking with all of them!

  9. Wonderful kitchen herb garden Mark! I also love seeing what types of herbs you guys "across the pond" plant and use as compared to our herbs here in the States. Great lesson here for me. Can't wait to see what you cook with these lovely green sure-signs-of-spring!

  10. Haven't heard of Good King Henry..looks a bit like spinach?

    What would we do without think that growing up, we only had dried sage and summer savory, except for parsley and it was mostly used for decoration. We have come a long way and they are so good for us, in so many ways.

    Your display and vigorous growing pots and beds are inspiring, and to think you can keep rosemary outside all winter! Wonderful.

  11. Oh yes, I'm with you on the parsley. We never have enough of it here. I've just started growing comfrey too. But Good King Henry - never heard of it.

  12. Excellent selection of herbs, Mark. I too love them in the garden and use them in the kitchen.

  13. That's a lot of different herbs. I've only got the odd one or two, but after seeing a few herby posts on different blogs just lately, I think I may try my hand at growing a few more this year.

  14. Can you use parsley somewhere as a decorative edging plant?

  15. Your chives pots are great - I need to do that, I have loads of problems growing chives - they keep getting swamped by more vigorous plants, either that or the black aphids get them. Very annoyed as I really enjoy them. I am pleased to say that I am self sufficient in parsley - just - but to achieve that I have to admit I have quite a lot of plants tucked in between things in my beds.

  16. You have a super variety of herbs. I'm hoping to expand in herbs growing this year. I think my favourites are parsley, coriander, and basil for cooking. I'm inspired by your pea shoots for salads (last post) and I think I will try this as well. I don't think i've ever eaten a pea shoot but I'm sure i'll enjoy it.

  17. Nice variety Mark. My first seeds are now properly sprouted and I put some more in last week... of course the chillies sprout first! Good tip on the mint, I have some, but I think I'll keep it in pots now. I'm going to get some tarragon seeds this weekend, I love it and you can't always get hold of it. I see your chives are in pots too. Probably not a bad idea.

  18. I don't want to skite (well, maybe just a little) but I've had so much parsley this year that I've made parsley soup and parsley pesto for the freezer and it's still a jungle out there! :) Your chives look very attractive in their pots.

    I enjoy your blog and your wisdom.

  19. It's all looking quite nice and tidy. There is nothing like fresh herbs to brighten a meal. Even a little salad made up primarity of herbs is so welcome at times.

  20. So any types of herbs! They all look green and inviting.
    I might start one set in my terrace , after our monsoons arrive.
    right now we are under heat waves, and water shortages.
    BTW, the cabbages do shoot from the sides :-)


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