Spring Has Sprung!
Finally… The season of growth and all things new is upon us – my absolute favourite time of year. So in the theme, why not try something different this year and introduce a few herbs with medicinal/culinary/cosmetic benefits to your garden? Why not make it functional and multi-use, just like the Victorian’s did! Most houses of the era had their own kitchen garden full of edibles and medicinal plants. Whatever your space- whether you have a garden (lucky you!), an allotment/community garden or even a windowsill- there are always herbs you can grow!
Gathering Ideas and Inspiration
The frosty mornings are nearly behind us and plants are gathering up their strength & gradually coming to life again. So now is a perfect time to get out and about & enjoy it. Do a bit of research & gather inspiration. Here in Europe we are spoilt with an abundance of historic herb gardens for a little vision.. Stately Homes, Castles, Priories and Monasteries in Britain and Europe have impressive walled herb gardens- originally grown for medicinal, home and kitchen purposes: all in one functional gardens!
Have a nosey around the following websites on Britain’s top kitchen gardens, herb gardens etc…
Britain’s Finest http://www.britainsfinest.co.uk
English Heritage http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/
The possibilities are endless but if you are just starting out, less is more and go with what you are familiar with. Many common culinary herbs have medicinal benefits too.
Lemon Balm and Mint (these are the garden ‘thugs’ so best use pots to stop them taking over) Makes for a beautiful morning cuppa.
Calendula: the petals are edible, can be used as a herbal tea or in cosmetics
Rosemary and Thyme: these herbs love dry rocky soil and between them have an abundance of medicinal benefits. Thyme is great for infections. Rosemary is good for the liver.
Nasturtium: Easy growing and great as a food (in salads) and medicine- both the flowers and leaves. Contains natural antibiotic compounds which helps to clear the sinuses, you’ll recognize this if you nibble on the spicy leaves.
Berries: Raspberries and other berries: Fruit for food and leaves medicinally. I make a tea with the fruit and the leaves.
Lavender: beautiful in the bath or natural skincare- also nice for pot pourri or lavender pillows. The French are big fans of this herb in cooking, both in savoury and sweet dishes.
Rose: look for the fragrant varieties: you can use these in natural skincare, pot pourri, make crystallized flower petals, use them in teas or other herbal elixirs. Rose is said to be the herb of choice for a broken heart or grief.
Fennel and Dill: food & medicine. Great for bloating and poor digestion. You can use the vegetable, the leafy fronds and the seeds. These herbs are the ingredients in Baby Gripe Water, used to treat colic in babies.
Plus loads more… plan your garden according to your likes & needs. Make it yours.
Further Reading – Herb Gardening
Do a bit of digging (in the literary sense for now, the physical digging will come later!). Some useful Books include: RHS Herbs for the Gourmet Gardener, Neal’s Yard Remedies: Cook, Blend and Grow your own Herbs, Grow your own Drugs by James Wong… but actually many traditional herbal medicine texts will have info on how to grow herbs and the local library should have a few.
Medicinal Plant Nurseries – Buying your Seeds/Plants
When it comes to buying your plants and seeds, try to find organic versions from quality suppliers. In the UK there are a growing number of Nurseries specializing in Medicinal Herbs, but wherever you live in the world, there are bound to be a few quality specialist suppliers and if not, some companies have mail order options for seeds. Here are a few of these Nurseries in the UK to get you started but check out your local area too…
Jekkas Herb Farm https://www.jekkasherbfarm.com/ South Gloucestershire
Herbal Haven http://www.herbalhaven.com/ herb nursery in Essex. Also check out their blog.
Iden Croft Herbs http://www.uk-herbs.com/index.php Based in Kent, they sell medicinal and kitchen herbs- they also a medicinal and sensory garden to visit.
Pan Global Plants http://www.panglobalplants.com/ Near Bristol, can visit upon arrangement.
Hooksgreen Herbs in Staffordshire http://www.hooksgreenherbs.com/ stock a large range of medicinal and rare herbs.
The National Herb Centre http://www.herbcentre.co.uk/ The National Herb Centre is a Nursery in Banbury near Warwick. It sells a large range of culinary and medicinal plants. There are also Nature Trails, herb gardens, events and home delivery options.
Farmcote Herbs http://www.farmcoteherbs.co.uk/ Nursery Near Cheltenham
Pontzfieldherbs http://www.poyntzfieldherbs.co.uk/nursery.html Based in the Scottish Highlands
Blackbrook Herb Gardens http://www.blackbrookherbgardens.co.uk/ Near Wilmslow, Cheshire
Yorkshire Lavender Farm https://www.yorkshirelavender.com/
For UK residents see the Garden Grower Directory http://www.garden-grower.com/garden-nursery/herb-nurseries-uk.shtml for additional growers in your area.
Now for the Action. Start Digging! Create a Little Magic on your Little Patch of Land/Balcony/Windowsill 🙂
For some extra resource on growing, check out my Links Page for sustainable living: