Author: Michael - page 3

MINT BASIL – Mentha sp


A spreading perennial growing to a height of 45cm. Frost hardy. Vaguely similar in flavour to sweet basil so partners well with other strong flavoured herbs. Used in winter as a basil substitute. Can be added to soups, fish, vegetables, salad dressing, marinades and sauces.

MINT APPLE – Mentha suaveolens


A spreading perennial to 35cms. A superior flavoured mint with hairy leaves which makes it less desirable to use as a garnish. Can be used in sauces, desserts cocktails and teas. There is also a variegated variety which has a sweet fruity fragrance but is less vigorous.



Mints are a wonderful fragrant perennial herb to add to your garden. They mostly prefer sun to part shade in summer, and soil that is rich and moist. They can be quite invasive, so are best planted in pots, but must have plenty of water to survive the summer months. There is quite a large range available to grow.

MARJORAM SWEET – Origanum majorana


A perennial herb to 60cm. Prefers a sunny position especially in winter as it does not like the cold. Can be substituted for mild oregano in cooking. It is often used in bouquet garni. Sweeter and milder than its relative oregano, leaves can be used with meat, stews, Italian dishes, to name a few. Often used to flavour vinegars and oils. Dried, it makes a refreshing herbal tea.

LOVAGE – Levisticum officinalis


A very tall perennial herb that can reach 1m in height. Frost hardy. Lovage may die back over winter but will regenerate in spring. Prefers full sun or partial shade. Leaves, stems and seeds are substitutes for celery. The leaves and stems can be used in salads and the leaves and dried seeds can be used in soups, casseroles, sauces and pickling mixtures. Lovage is also used in teas, vinegars and butters.

LEMON VERBENA – Aloysia triphylla


A beautiful lemon scented shrub which can grow to about 2m in height. Frost hardy. Prefers a sheltered, sunny position as it does not like the cold. Can become a bit straggly, but prune well in spring to encourage bushy growth. Delicate white flowers in summer. Leaves can be used to flavour drinks and jellies, salad dressing or in stuffing for poultry.

Medicinal uses: Dried leaves can be used for herbal tea to help relieve fever, cold symptoms and indigestion. The leaves can also be used in potpourris and sachet fillings.

LEMON GRASS – Cymbopogon citratus


Clumping grass-like perennial reaching about 1m in height, preferring a sunny well-drained position with good summer watering. May die down in winter but should bounce back in spring after a good prune. Base of leaves is used extensively in Asian cooking.

Medicinal uses: The lemony flavour of the leaves is used in herbal teas to relieve stress, digestive problems and minor fevers.

LEMON BALM MELISSA – Melissa officinalis


A spreading lemon scented perennial growing to a height of 60cm. Frost and cold sensitive, the plant may die back in winter but should regenerate in spring. Prefers full sun or partial shade in rich, moist soil and loves to be cut back. Pick fresh leaves as required but best flavour is in spring. Fresh leaves and flowers are used in salads, cool summer drinks and the leaves are used in stuffings and sauces for poultry and fish.

Medicinal uses: Lemon balm herbal teas are pleasant flavoured and calming, and help improve digestion. The dried flowers and leaves can be added to potpourri and herb pillows.

KALE – Brassica oleracea acephala


A nutritious leafy green annual which will grow all year round but does exceptionally well through the colder months. In fact the leaves are sweeter after a frost. Prefers a well-drained soil in part to full sun. There are several different varieties of Kale such as Tuscan Black, Dwarf Blue Curled and Red Russian. Can be added to salads, juices, stir-fries, made into chips, or steamed. The youngest leaves are the sweetest so harvest regularly. High in antioxidants, iron, calcium, vitamins A, C and K. Great for digestion and intestinal cleansing. High in anti-inflammatory properties and some cholesterol lower benefits. A great plant for the herb garden.

HYSSOP – Hyssopus officinalis


A perennial plant which grows to a height of about 50cm. Frost hardy. Full sun preferred but will grow in partial shade. Hyssop is a decorative plant and very attractive to bees and butterflies. Leaves have a pungent pine flavour, therefore should be used sparingly in meat dishes, stuffing and in soups and casseroles. Flowers can add flavour and colour to salads.

Medicinal uses: Tea made from the leaves, dried stems and flowers is said to relieve the symptoms of colds, reduce inflammation and used as a general tonic for the digestive system.

HORSERADISH – Armoracia rusticana


Horseradish is often grown as an annual but it is really a perennial plant. Full sun preferred. The main harvest is in autumn although side roots can be snipped off in summer for immediate use. Horseradish sauce is made from the root of the plant. The heat and pungency are not apparent until the root is grated. The leaves, which are milder tasting, can be added to salads.

Medicinal uses: If small amounts are eaten regularly it is said to ward off colds as horseradish contains high amounts of vitamin C and many essential minerals.

GARLIC – Allium sativum


Perennial. Garlic grows from a bulb consisting of several segments which are strongly aromatic. Full sun essential. Frost hardy. Harvest garlic in autumn or summer if the leaves have yellowed. It can be planted amongst roses to deter aphids and other rose pests, or make into a spray to kill or repel pests. Dried bulbs can be strung together and hung for later use. It is an essential ingredient in many European and Asian dishes and is also used in herb butters and vinegars.

Medicinal uses: Useful for lowering both blood pressure and cholesterol, garlic is also said to have beneficial effects on the immune system. For colds and flu taking regular amounts of garlic should reduce susceptibility.

FEVERFEW – Tanacetum parthenium, syn. Chrysanthemum parthenium


A strong smelling short-lived perennial plant that grows in partial shade or full sun in cooler areas to almost a metre tall with dense foliage. It has finely cut leaves and clusters of small, white daisy-like flowers throughout the year. Frost hardy. The daisies attract beneficial insects.

Medicinal uses: One or two leaves can be eaten daily to help prevent migraines but this may cause mouth ulcers for some people. Tea from the dried upper parts of the plant may relieve indigestion and period pain.
Avoid if pregnant. Consult your health care professional before taking.

FENNEL SWEET – Foeniculum vulgare


A fast growing, spreading perennial plant which can reach almost 2 metres in height. It can be an extremely invasive plant and has been declared a noxious weed in some areas. Frost hardy. Prefers full sun.
Finely chopped leaves will add an aniseed flavour to many dishes including pasta, fish and potato. Also can be added to vinegars. The fleshy, white base is eaten raw or cooked.

Medicinal uses: All parts of fennel are said to be beneficial to the digestion, good for the eyes and a mild appetite suppressant. Tea made from the seeds is a mild laxative and chewing the seeds freshens the breath.

ECHINACEA – Echinacea purpurea


Echinacea PowWowBerry13001This perennial plant grows to a height of 1.5 metres, is frost hardy and dry tolerant once established. Attractive purple/pink flowers with a raised ‘cone’ centre from summer into early autumn and are attractive to bees and butterflies. A very showy plant for the ornamental garden.

Medicinal uses: Its leaves, or an extract from the plant, are used for herbal remedies. This medicine is taken at the onset of colds, flu, bronchitis, and sinusitis. It is said to stimulate the immune system, has anti-viral and bacterial properties and promotes healing. Avoid during pregnancy.

DILL – Anethum graveolens


A hardy, annual plant which grows to a height of 90cm. Frost hardy. Similar in appearance to fennel. Prefers full sun or partial shade. Umbels of tiny yellow flowers produced in summer will attract beneficial predatory insects. Taste is not unlike parsley. Used in dishes with fish, dairy food and vegetables. The seeds can also be used for flavouring.

CORIANDER – Coriandrum sativum


coriander plant seeds and powder1Fast-growing but short-lived annual growing to a height of 50cm. Prefers sunny position or partial shade. In summer plants tend to bolt to seed, but grow well throughout the rest of the year. White flowers attract beneficial insects. Frost hardy. Use roots, leaves and seeds, particularly in Middle East and Asian cooking.



A spreading clump-forming perennial which has flattish leaves to about 60cms, requiring sun to partial shade with some summer watering. In autumn starry white edible flowers are produced making it a nice edging plant. Can be cut back to the ground and divided every second year. Garlic chives are classic flavour partners to parsley, basil, tarragon and chervil, soups, salads, herb butter and herb bread. Used a lot in Asian cuisine.

CHIVES – Allium schoenoprasum


A hardy, attractive clump forming perennial with edible purple flowers in summer. Best grown in full sun but will tolerate partial shade. Frost hardy. Pick when plant is about 15cm high during the warmer months. Clip the leaves close to the ground to keep crop growing. Chives are exceptionally easy to grow, great for beginners and they should last for years. They are easily grown from seed and perfect for pots. Great with potatoes, as a garnish for soups and salads and flavouring omelettes and sauces.

CHICORY RED RIB – Cichorium intybus ‘Red Rib’


An annual salad herb to 30cms. Frost and drought tolerant. Likes a moist well-drained soil in a sunny position. With red ribs and green foliage this is an eye-catching herb for the garden. Has a slightly bitter flavour although the small inner leaves are milder tasting. Great in salads.

Medicinal uses: It is a traditional digestive and liver tonic.

CHERVIL – Anthriscus cerefolium


Frost hardy annual growing to a height of 30cm. Prefers partial shade in a rich, moist soil. The leaves have a mild aniseed flavour, so is often used in desserts or drinks. Can also be added to soups, sauces, salads, fresh vegetables and salad dressings. When cooking, add last thing so as to retain its flavour.

CHARD SWISS & RUBY – Beta vulgaris


Both frost hardy perennial plants growing to a height of 75cm. Tolerant of warm weather if watered well. Likes a well composted soil with additional fertilising through the growing season. Young leaves can
be added to garden salads where their crimson leaves add some interest. Older leaves can be used as a spinach substitute.

CHAMOMILE GERMAN – Matricaria chamomilla


Frost hardy annual growing to 60cms. Full sun to light shade. Apple flavoured, daisy like flowers give a prolific display through summer and autumn. Fresh or dried flowers can be used to make tea.

Medicinal uses: As a calming tea, and may also give some relief for mild digestive problems. Always consult with your medical practitioner before taking.



Mat-forming, evergreen perennial plant growing to a height of 15cm. Traditionally used as a ground cover for around garden paths and as a soft lawn with aromatic, apple scented leaves. An infusion is said to prevent damping off. Small white daisy flowers appear in summer.

CELERIAC – Apium graveolens var. rapaceum


A frost tender perennial root vegetable related to celery which grows to a height of 90cm. Celeriac thrives in full sun to part shade position, in a rich, moist soil. Regularly remove old coarse stalks. It can be mashed, boiled, roasted and added to soups or stews. The leaves can also be used to flavour soups and stews, in stir fries or as a garnish.

CATNIP – Nepeta cataria


Perennial plant which grows to a height of 75cm. Frost hardy. Enjoys similar conditions to catmint. Cats adore the scent, some say more than catmint. Not all cats are affected by this plant.

CATMINT – Nepeta faassenii


Spreading frost hardy perennial to a height of 30cm. Excellent ground cover and cottage plant with lavender blue flowers spring to autumn. Prefers full sun to partial shade. Cats adore the leaf aroma. Prune back each year to keep plant bushy. Popular in cat toys and potpourri.

CAT GRASS – Dactylis glomerata


This grassy perennial grows in reasonably moist conditions in the full sun or partial shade. Can be grown in a pot or garden situation. Some cats and dogs enjoy chewing on grass, for what reason is not entirely known. This plant is said to assist cats to eliminate fur balls. The fresh new growth is the most appealing.