With many gardeners putting their attention on their vegetable gardens with spring upon us, herbs could get some due consideration as well.
Their green foliage and aromas in the air could add some atmosphere to a windowsill or plant beds, and can work as wonderful seasonings to accompany your harvest from your vegetable garden.
Herbs fall into a few main categories: Flavoring, food, medicine, and perfume and many gardeners planting multiple herbs choose to group their plantings by category as well.
The herb garden at Pickering Creek, which has been managed by the Chesapeake Bay Herb Society, since 2003, offers inspiration with its beds being planted with groupings like “Pizza,” “Tea” and “Remedies.”
The Pizza nook of the garden has different types of parsleys, sage, and oregano.
If you are trying out a small herb garden for children, “Pizza Gardens” is a popular choice because they house some of the more recognized herbs and end with a fun cooking project recognized by all children.
Another fun herb niche is a Chocolate garden, with the star planting being Chocolate Mint, an herb that is growing in popularity.
After being dried, it can be ground up and used in hot chocolate, frostings, and anywhere else you’d like a hint of something different.
Team it up with other chocolate fragrant plants such as Chocolate Daisies and chocolate colored blooms such as Chocolate Cosmos or ‘Dark Chocolate’ Coleus.
The herb of the year for 2018, selected by the International Herb Association, is hops, which are most commonly used in beermaking.
The rise of independent craft breweries has led to the cultivation of new hop varieties with different elements for aroma, bitterness, and more to create a unique beers.
Commercially grown on a trellis 18 feet tall or more, the climbing bines can also be used to climb over a pergola or a fence.
Grown from a plant or rhizome, they can be a fun standout in a homeowner’s garden as well.
As they develop hop cones around August and September in our area, crush one in your hands and you’ll swear you are smelling your favorite IPA.
Once you find the herbs that you’d like to try your hand at, do some research on their growing patterns.
Tread carefully though, as they can spread and almost become problematic, nearly taking over a bed.
After growing you’ll want to check on and cut back some of these varieties depending on your herb goals.
Herbs are also great as they are happy on a sunny windowsill, or mixed with other plants in your flower or garden beds.
Many times, their aromas can be helpful in keeping pests and trespassers from your other plants.
Dill and basil, for example, are great for keeping mosquitoes away, while rosemary and sage have been known to keep pests like moths and beetles away.
The Chesapeake Bay Herb Society meets on the second Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. at Christ Church in Easton.
Each meeting features a special speaker and new ideas of how to use your harvested herbs.
Members bring an “herb of the month” based dish to each meeting to share in a potluck meal.