July 4, 2011

My Herb Garden: What's Growing

I've blogged about my herb garden on occasion. I've talked about plans, more plans, and progress, and admit that for the longest time there really wasn't all that much to see. My long-term goal is to replace our entire front yard lawn (weeds mostly) with an herb garden. I've been slowly working on this project for about two years now. Like my main garden, I've had some successes and some failures. I'm still a long ways off from reaching my goal, but I have made progress.

I think of my herbs as falling into one or more three basic categories: culinary, medicinal, and dye plants. I admit that after reading Edible Forest Gardens , I realized there is so much more to it. Herbs, like other plants, can also serve as nectaries, attracting beneficial insects for pollination; herbs that repel destructive insects; nitrogen fixers; dynamic accumulators, bringing up much needed nutrients for the depths of the soil;. Then there are plants to attract butterflies and songbirds, not to mention beauty. As you can see, my concept of an herb garden is much expanded. Even so, I still mentally divide my herbs into my original categories. With that in mind, here's what's growing.

Salvia officinalis
culinary, medicinal 

Marrubium vulgare
medicinal, culinary

Butterfly Weed
Asclepias tuberosa
medicinal, dye plant

Purple coneflower
Echinacea purpurea

Thymus vulagaris
culinary, medicinal

Pot Marigold
medicinal, culinary

Origanum vulgare
culinary, medicinal

Black-eyed Susan
dye plant

Mentha spicata
medicinal, culinary 

Achillea millefolium
medicinal, dye plant 

culinary, medicinal

culinary, dye plant

Rosmarinus officinalis
culinary, medicinal

In addition to my front yard herb garden, I have two other herbs growing in the yard.

Russian Comfrey
Symphytum Peregrinum
medicinal, forage

Nepata cataria
medicinal, culinary

Some of the things I planted didn't germinate: St. Johns Wort, pyrethrum, Hungarian poppy, valerian. There's always next year for these. And more. I admit I can't wait till the lawn is gone.


Lynda said...

Your herb garden is really coming along! It's just wonderful. I've always had herbs, nothing very organized...just started a new raised herb bed this year and have already out grown it! I think I need to follow your lead and devote a larger space!

Sherri B. said...

It is such a good idea to have something more that lawn in the front yard. I told my husband that I would be happy to have paths wandering with lovely raised beds and the herbs would be a great way to go, especailly when there are so many pretty ones.

Jo said...

Beautiful herbs, you have so many things blooming right now. Thanks for the pictures!

Leigh said...

Lynda, it doesn't take long to need a bigger space! I admit mine isn't very organized either. Well, it is sort of, but there are a lot of gaps and areas that will be overcrowded soon. Then there are the things I planted not knowing exactly how tall their neighbors would be. Ah well...

Sherri, that's my goal! I love all the things blooming.

Jo, thanks!

m said...

On our recent trip to Cumbria for Woolfest we stopped off at a National Trust property, Acorn Bank.
It has an amazing herb garden, with about 250 medicinal plants.
These are separated into beds for their healing properties such as Anti-Cancer, Heart etc.
We didn't have time to scrutinise all of it thoroughly, and I now wish that I had taken their leaflet.
If we pass that away again, we will surely stop in for a longer visit.

Benita said...

"I can't wait until the yard is gone." I so understand. There's nothing better than going out to harvest your own foods and herbs and it sure beats mowing!

Woolly Bits said...

I used to grow every herb I could put my hands on (a huge choice, esp. with some specialised suppliers:)), partly because I wanted to try out things for our magazine at the time. bit by bit sanity did return and things like mandrake etc. vanished from my garden. I do wonder though, who would use horehound as a culinary herb? it is so bitter that I wouldn't try eating this even in small doses (perfect as cough herb though, for syrup and lozenges):)) I don't really need many medicinal herbs, but I am quite glad that the st. john's wort (which didn't germinate for me either!) self-seeded in some areas... one of the things I always try to make is the red oil from the flowers. I just wish we had more sunshine - if the weather stays like this the oil won't be very potent....

Leigh said...

Mary, that would be a wonderful way to organize an herb garden. It would take more forethought and planning than I've got gumption for, LOL. I find that mostly I think about color and texture as I plan where to plant things! A fiber artist forever. :)

Benita, truer words were never spoken!

Bettina, interesting your St. John's Wort didn't germinate for you either! Maybe I should look for plants, though there may be something finally coming up that looks like it. I'm curious, what do you do with your red oil?

At one time, horehound candy was very popular here. It's now considered an old-fashioned country store treat. I'm growing it for cough medicine, thinking it would probably take way too much honey to make candy.

Donna OShaughnessy said...

What a great goal. Soon we plan to sell out too large farm and have a tiny house with a tiny yard which will be full of herbs. You inspire me Thanks much

Anonymous said...

Your pictures look lovely! With my tiny city back yard, I am trying to grow a small herb garden this year...so far, not much success though. I started everything way too late, and then we have had a very wet and cool spring. So harvesting yarrow or calendula flowers is a long way off for me...but it's nice to see other herb gardens that look so productive!

Sharon said...

Leigh, after you said your St. John's Wort failed I went and researched what it looks like. Low and behold I have some wild in the garden and have been trying to work out what it was. Thank you!

Kaat said...

They look wonderful, so lush and healthy!
Only one of my asclepius tuberosa grew and it hasn't flowered yet. My elecampane is monstrous! My echinacea is doing so-so...
Valerian is tough to grow. I've never gotten them past the seedling stage. Even the one I got as a live plant (root) from Fedco never grew.

Sheryl at Providence North said...

I think St. John's wort needs a witner to germinate. Try planting it this fall for sprouting next spring, or wintersow.

I grow many of the same herbs that you have. I love them!

bspinner said...

Leigh, Your herb garden is beautiful!!! Are the bees humming around the flowers? For some strange reason the flys like my thyme. Have to idea why.

Leigh said...

Donna, I can only imagine how much fun you're having thinking of what you want to do with your new place. Hopefully you'll be there soon.

Laura Jeanne, herb gardens seem to be slower to establish than veggie gardens. I reckon it's because the seeds are harder to germinate and they take so long to grow. Then there's the weather, just like you say!

Sharon, how exciting! Good for you for identifying before pulling out! I sometimes wonder what I destroyed by doing that. :o

Kaat, thanks! Some herbs just are tough. I didn't realize that about Valerian. I do find that echinacea takes several years to really establish well. The butterfly weed seemed another slow one. It does take awhile to establish a mature herb garden!

Sheryl, I didn't read that about St Johns wort but am willing to try anything. :o. I do know it can take a long time to germinate, and I'm thinking it may be slow due to some long rainless spells. That gets a lot of my plantings!

Barb, thanks! Mmm, thyme honey. We do have bees all over the place. I'll have to keep an eye out to see what they favor.

trump said...

Happy July 4 to everyone. Richard from the Amish settlement of Lebanon,Pa

Green Bean said...

How pretty!! I never realized some of those were considered herbs. Blush. The black eyed susans for one. I've just planted those because they were pretty. I guess that is the beauty of herbs - they have looks and use!

Jody said...

So many herbs. Some of them I didn't even know were classified as herbs. Now I know. I sure would like to have a birds eye view of that garden. I bet it's beautiful.

Leigh said...

Richard, Happy 4th to you too!

Green Bean and Jody, technically you're both right, some of those things (like the black-eyed Susans) aren't herbs. They are in the herb garden because they are perennials, and because they are useful to me. I almost titled the post "Herb & Flower Garden: What's Growing." My apologies for being confusing!

Evelyn said...

St. John's Wort grows wild here and is considered a weed! My grandmother collected it for teas. Do you have a Bay Laurel?

Eleanor@PlannedResilience.net said...

Sage is a really cool plant. In the Fall, it appears to dry up and die. The leaves all shrivel up, as if they were dead. But when Spring comes, the leaves plump back up and become green, lush and just like they were before. They ought to call this the resurrection plant, because that's what it looks like. The plant blooms the old wood, at least that's what mine does.
BTW, where did you find Horehound? I would love to grow that myself.

Leigh said...

Evelyn, no, no bay laurel. It may be one to consider. I wish St. Johns Wort grew wild here too!

Eleanor, thanks for your visit to my blog and your comment! I bought horehound seed from Pinetree Garden Seeds
Very economical and they've done very well.