Column: The Garden Girl – Herbs

April 27, 2014 14:00 pm · 12 comments


Herb gardening is both beautiful and rewarding. Plant-lovers delight in how easy it is to grow the herbs that they love to cook with. It is great to be able to walk out side and snip some leaves from the sage or sprig of rosemary and incorporate them into any of their favorite dishes. Herbs are also attractive garden installations. They can be grown in garden beds, borders or containers. Many have interested looking foliage and some have very pretty flowers.

The idea to grow your own herbs has surged over the past years. The palates of these herb growers have matured too. Yesterday’s herb gardens were planted with basil, parsley and rosemary. Although those old favorites still rule the herb bed, today’s herb growers are expanding their gardens to include various flavored mints, expanded collections of basil, colorful oregano, fruit and citrus infused thyme, fancy leafed and flavored sages and lemon verbenas.

Herb gardens should be located in a mostly sun. Plants need to be installed using a rich soil conditioner; preferable one that once opened looks more like potting soil and less like bark. Once established, most herbs are very water wise, requiring very little to thrive. Basil, cilantro and parsley plants are an exception, and they need more water, and tolerate less sun. Fertilize herbs with an organic or natural fertilizer.

Flavored mints are all the rage; Mojito, Apple, Basil, Chocolate and Banana Mint are among some of the most popular. Mint can get out of hand in a garden bed. Install your chosen mint in a container for control.

Oregano is a large family of herbs containing members just planted for cooking and some that are so pretty they can be planted just to admire. Greek and Italian Oregano are two fabulous choices for those that desire fresh oregano for cooking. Oregano Aureum Gold has bold yellow leaves, which is fabulous looking in the garden. Kent Beauty is a variety that one may plant just for looks. Kent Beauty has pinkish-purple flowers that weep over the sides of containers and hanging baskets. Try to remember this oregano’s name. Once it is blooming in your landscape you’ll be asked over and over again to identify it!

Thyme is another huge selection of herbs. There is a flavor to please every one. You can find lemon, lime and orange flavored thymes, as well as coconut and oregano. All thymes are edible. Some don’t have a flavorful essence that will transfer to the food your creating.

Sage is such a large family; columns can be written on this group alone. Cooking Sage has that deep, hardy fragrance and reminds me of sausage. Common Sage is a great evergreen shrub in the landscape. It has large gray leaves and summer blue flowers. If you are craving a different look in the landscape or container, look for the tri-color sage. This selection has a leaf with combination pink, cream and green colors. Pineapple Sage is a joy to grow. Its leaves smell like pineapple when crushed. It is used for baking, and flavored waters and teas. If you don’t wish to use the Pineapple Sage for cooking, you can just enjoy watching the hummingbirds as they drink its sweet nectar from the salmon colored summer flowers.

Happy Gardening.

Nicole Hackett is the Garden Girl at R&M Pool, Patio and Gardens, located at 6780 Marsh Creek Road in Clayton, 925-672-0207.

Nicole writes for the Clayton Pioneer Newspaper, and She is also the Clayton Valley Garden Club 2012 President.

photo credit: Barry Hart

1 Dorothy April 27, 2014 at 5:11 PM

My sage came through the winder very nicely and is in bloom just now. All the other herbs have to be restarted. Good to know which ones not to get because of the water they will need – and which ones don’t need as much.

2 Cowellian April 27, 2014 at 5:58 PM

This year, we mounted a couple of window boxes on our deck rail and planted a bunch of herbs. So tonight, I roasted some Yukon Gold potatoes on the grill and served them with fresh cut chives. I’ve got to say that I’m kind of a fan of these fresh herbs.

3 ClayDen April 27, 2014 at 7:20 PM

We always plant parsley and basil in large flower pots on our patio; nice to have it fresh when you need it.

4 Marianne April 27, 2014 at 8:33 PM

Thank you garden girl, we grilled meat tonight with some fresh thyme and sage. We really enjoy our herb garden.

5 Larienne April 27, 2014 at 8:36 PM

Wasn’t dave talking about an herb garden he had at one time or another?

6 funny man April 27, 2014 at 9:19 PM

so is it her-b or urb? i luv the smells, i wish i knew how to cook more than just mac n chesse hehe

7 Antler April 28, 2014 at 3:20 AM

The pineapple sage I bought from a certain nursery in Clayton has been blooming through every season except winter….. love it!

8 Silva April 28, 2014 at 3:55 PM

Antler, does that really taste and/or smell of pineapple? And do you use it in food?

9 Michelle April 28, 2014 at 4:40 PM

Lemon thyme gives meats the best flavors. I enjoy making a rub of rosemary and savory with a few spices and olive oil.

10 Silva April 28, 2014 at 6:58 PM

Well I’m just going to look for a few of those pineapple sages, they look astonishing! I’d have to liken that color more to a red coral, at least in the photos I saw.

11 asswhooping? April 28, 2014 at 7:36 PM

I’ve planted a variety of herbs in my garden this year, i wonder which will bloom first.

12 milly April 29, 2014 at 9:43 AM

Planted 2 rosemary plants years ago,and because of their flowers i have bees visiting all winter long… i also cut branches off the rosemary bushes and wrapped them around the bottom of some of my fruit trees to keep ants away(strong smell for them)…

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