I like to think of them in terms of permanent plantings, the shrub herbs, perennials, root herbs (including bulbs, corms and tubers) and finally annuals. With these classifications in mind, I can then scatter herbs into a planting design or can create a more permanent year-round herb garden design.
|Lavender in full bloom|
Perennial herbs tend to be a bit less permanent than shrub herbs, but they still will come back over a multiple of years. In this category are sage, sorrel and the host of mints. Sage, Salvia officinalis, is an evergreen woody herb with edible leaves several inches long. It reaches one to two feet in height and has gray-green leaves and blue to white flowers. As an herb, it is used to season poultry, sausage and soft mild cheese, and as a planting it is lovely in rock gardens and along plant bed edges. Sorrel, Rumex sp., is a perennial herb that reaches eighteen inches to three feet tall. I prefers full sun and makes an interesting bed edge plant. Flowers are an insignificant green or brown, showing up in the summer, but the leaves provide a nice texture change to the bed. They are a three to six inch shield, often with red stems or veins. Sorrel is used in soup and with chicken and egg dishes.
Root herbs are often simply lumped into a category of bulb, because most people to realize that there are different types of roots. In this category are the Allium sp. They are perennial bulbs that have blue to green tubular grass-like leaves, reach heights of one to two feet, prefer full sun and have globe shaped flowers that are in the blue, purple, pink and white range. This genus includes garlic - Allium sativum, chives - Allium tuberosum, and onions - Allium cepa.
|Saffron Crocus in bloom|
Annuals are good for a growing season and can be planted like annual flowers. Parsley, Petroselinum crispum, is a biennial or annual herb that prefers partial shade to full sun. It produces edible, dark green, curly leaves that provide interesting texture to the garden and the insignificant flowers attract swallowtail butterflies who like to use the plant to lay their eggs. Parsley is used as a garnish and in soups, stews and salads. Basil, Ocimum minimum, is an annual herb, It reaches eighteen inches to two feet in height and prefers full sun. The plant produces bright green or purple fragrant leaves which are used in soups, salads, stews and tomato based sauces. Basil has small white to pink flowers in summer.
Herbs in the garden provide interest closer to the ground. They give added texture to your beds and provide lovely scents as well as lovely flowers. Their bonus is that they also provide interesting flavor and scent to your cooking. Add them to your beds or create a specific garden just for your herbs to spice up your life.