Perennial Herb Garden

Last summer I started a perennial herb garden just on the other side of our orchard.  Although I grew up eating fairly bland food and have cooked that way myself for years, as I get older I realize that I enjoy herbs and spices more than I thought I did!

Perennial herb garden

Here is my Perennial herb garden looking from East to West, with the oregano section in the foreground.  The oregano started out as one small plant, but has spread and will probably fill in the bed this year.

I decided to start a perennial herb garden because I found that buying fresh herbs at the market can be quite expensive.  Even when I find the price reasonable, sometimes I have to buy too much for the recipe I am following and end up wasting some of the herb.  So, I decided to start growing my own.  Of course I will continue to plant basil seeds every year, and red peppers to make my own red pepper flakes, but the perennial herbs seem to take care of themselves.  In fact, it’s rare that they get bugs.  That’s probably because of the aromatic oils in the plants themselves.  My only problem has been with our &%$#(@# vole that insists on tunneling right through my beds!

The rosemary plants look pretty good. They are fairly drought tolerant and have virtually no pests, but our honeybees will absolutely maul the rosemary blooms when they appear later this spring,

I grew rosemary for years at our old house and ended up with huge rosemary bushes that weren’t very well tamed.  Our kitty cat used to sleep under the rosemary during the hot summer afternoons and she would come into the house smelling like heaven!  I am just learning to cook more with rosemary, and made a delicious rosemary sourdough cracker a couple of years ago.

I have also tried growing oregano before and really enjoyed learning to make Italian and Mexican dishes with fresh oregano.  However, I have never grown sage or thyme, which I had heard are fairly easy to grow, especially in my 7B/8A climate. In fact, when our new house is finished being built, there is a hill right behind our covered patio where I will be planting thyme, as it is supposed to be a great ground cover.

I decided to locate the garden right behind the log retaining wall that is terracing our orchard because many herbs are deterrents to deer. In fact, my research reveals that deer detest rosemary!  We haven’t had a real problem with deer in our orchard/garden, but I’m all for double purpose plants!

So, I decided to plant the herb garden with the four basics:  oregano, sage, rosemary and thyme. Did I just hear Simon and Garfunkel in my head? 😉  All of these are perennials.  Up in the garden I also have a few other perennial herbs including lemon balm, spearmint and lavender.

Growing lemon balm in a perennial herb gardenThe lemon balm is in a planter right next to the bee hives.  There is an old folk tale that bees will not abandon a hive (swarm) where lemon balm grows, so that is why we planted it there.  We also have another lemon balm plant right next to our bee watering pond, so you can see I put a lot of faith in some folk tales!  We’ll see how it goes this year.  Lemon balm was once called a “poor man’s lemonade” plant, because not very many pioneers had lemon trees, nor could they afford lemons, but lots of people can grow lemon balm!

I am keeping the spearmint plant contained in a large pot.  Spearmint is known to spread willy-nilly and is hard to get rid of once established.  That is why, even though it is crowded, I am keeping it in a pot.  I will find a wider pot for the spearmint later this spring, however, so it can spread it’s roots a bit more. But I must warn you, my plant kept trying to escape this past summer by producing runners down to the ground seemingly overnight!  Of course, these runners are what I snipped and used for my kitchen. I love putting a few bruised spearmint leaves in hot water with a touch of either honey or a few stevia leaves, letting it cool, then drinking it over ice.  Ahhhhh.  So refreshing on a hot summer day! Growing spearmint in a perennial garden

The lavender is located just above the log retaining wall, near the strawberries.  Lavender lavenderinfused water is also yummy, and I just love putting a few dried sprigs in my drawers for a fresh, clean scent.

My dresser drawers, silly.  🙂

When Ray and I went on a farm tour a couple of years ago, we visited a farm that specialized in aromatic herbs including lavender, clary sage and lemon verbena.  In their gift shop they gave away lavender cookies and let me tell you, they were absolutely delicious!  As you can see in the picture to the right, I haven’t cleaned the lavender bed yet, but I will get to that soon.  My husband gave me the beautiful garden armillary for our anniversary several years ago, and my father made the concrete pedestal.  When the lavender is in bloom, this is such a beautiful vignette in the garden. And the armillary actually keeps pretty good time!  Speaking of thyme…

Thyme

This is the thyme, which has spread triple from what I planted last spring.

All of the herbs survived well over the winter, despite all of the wind, rain, hail and snow, and are showing signs of good spring growth.

The sage is  the herb in my garden that looks the most winter worn, but it is showing signs of new spring growth, so I have faith it will do just fine. Ray and I can’t wait to try a new sausage recipe that uses fresh sage. Yummy.

I pinched a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme the other day for one of our new favorite veggie cooking with rosemary and thymedishes:  roasted root vegetables!  All I had on hand this time were potatoes and carrots, which is just fine, but parsnips, rutabaga, even radish works in this dish. Just a couple sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary, chopped fine, salt and pepper, drizzled with olive oil, and the vegetables come out browned and caramelized, seasoned to perfection. What temp to set the oven?  Just about anything from 300 to 425, so you can roast meat or bake bread while roasting these healthy and delicious root vegetables – just knowing that they will cook faster at higher temperatures  MMMMMMMMM…

 

And the cute little kitty reclining on a rock that you may have spied near the sage?  That is in memory of my sweet kitty, Missy, who was queen of our neighborhood for 15 years and will remain forever in our hearts.

Thank you for visiting my blog!

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31 thoughts on “Perennial Herb Garden

  1. We started and herb garden at our new house site last year and every time I look at I sing the “parsley, sage, rosemary, and time…” verse in my head haha. Lavender cookies sounds like an awesome idea. I haven’t tried to grow any yet but I want to. Found your post at the Simple Homestead Blog Hop. Thanks for sharing!

    • Good morning! Kinda makes you want to watch the movie “The Graduate” again, right? Those lavender cookies were truly amazing, and I really think they were just a basic sugar cookie with dried lavender thrown in. The lavender flavor wasn’t lost in the cookie, yet wasn’t “in your face” either. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  2. Your gardens looks pretty as well as functional! I am aware of the ‘fun’ of moles and voles in your gardens. I am also aware that castor beans are their nemesis! The castor plant is majestic and so worth having. Bit by bit I have learned that each plant on this earth has a purpose and am in search of a plant to use as a counterbalance to any and all garden pests! Don’t have nearly enough research done yet, but love the journey.
    Keep up the life you are learning and sharing with you. Oh, I have to get on the lavender search, as I have had no success at all. Ther is a reason and I will find it and then make some of those cookies! God bless.

    • Castor beans? I had no idea – thanks! Isn’t it wonderful learning about all the different plant interactions and using them to your advantage? I still have a lot to learn, but I am also enjoying the journey. Thank you for your kind encouragement, and come back soon!

  3. Hello Vickie,
    Your herb garden looks very nice.
      We have a herb hill in our garden as you know.
    It is always fun to harvest your own herbs and use them.
    Many warm greetings and hugs
    Uwe and Angelika

    • Greetings, Uwe! It’s so nice to hear from you. I agree, it is fun to harvest my own herbs! I hope you and Angelika have a wonderful weekend.

  4. Your herb garden is lovely!! I have my herbs in big planter boxes on the deck, right outside the kitchen door, but even the perennial herbs have a hard time surviving our winters, so I usually have to replace them every year. Fingers crossed a few survive, that would be nice! Basil is already started in the utility room, it’s doing so well already, I can’t wait to have fresh herbs again!

    • Mmmmmm… fresh basil in pesto – nothing better! I heard that you can actually “clone” basil, by cutting off a sprig in autumn before the plant starts to die back, and sticking it in water with a little growth hormone. When roots develop, pot it up and by the next spring you would have a plant ready to go in the garden. I haven’t tried it yet, but it sounds do-able! Hopefully some of your herbs survived, but after seeing all the snow you have endured this winter, I’m not going to hold my breath. 😉

  5. Visiting from No ules Weekend Blog Party #229 and love your herb garden (pinned it). So far we have oregano, basil, dill, and rosemary. Many Blessings, Nancy A

    • I have never grown dill, but I adore dill pickles so I guess I should get some dill seeds! Thank you for commenting, Nancy. I haven’t seen your blog before, so I am going to be sliding over there to see what it’s all about. See you there!

  6. What a lovely garden- I love that you rimmed it with the rocks- I am not a green-thumb, but have managed to grow oregano and lavender only…I always try again tho.!

    • Actually, my thumb isn’t very green either, but I keep trying! I know that eventually I will get it right. That’s why I love these herbs… most of them have survived despite my gardening skills!

  7. It’s so nice to be able to pick just a little bit of whatever herb you need. I love them in infusions 🙂

    • Yes! I don’t have to buy a bunch of this or a plastic carton full of that. All I have to do is walk over to the herb and pluck! And it smells so good.

  8. I had to pause while reading your article, because I got jealous! I have an herb garden too, but yours is lovely …and you have lavender. I love it and have never been able to grow it successfully. So, I paused while reading your article and discovered that the local ag college recommends a specific type for our area! I’m excited to give it a go! Thanks, for the inspiration!

    • It’s great that you found a variety that may work for you – wahoo! Lavender is so pretty and smells so good… and is tasty too. We also like it because our honeybees adore it, and happy honeybees make yummy honey. 😉

  9. A year round herb garden sounds ideal! Typically I’ll have basil, rosemary and parsley on the deck in pots. The rosemary lasts well into winter. Buying herbs in the store can be very expensive and often go to waste. Nothing like walking outside and snipping just what you need. Happy to have found you via Happiness is Homemade!

  10. Nothing smells as nice as freshly cut herbs; I’m starting a herb garden this year too (after previously just plunking them here & there in the veg patch. Thyme gives off a lovely scent as you walk on it.
    I came to visit from Happiness is Homemade bloghop; I hope you’ll have time one day to visit the 4Shoes & let me know that you’ve been by.

    • Good morning, Joy, and thank you so much for the sweet compliment! I slipped over to your blog and saw your latest project, and I can’t wait to see the final result! Have a great day.

  11. You are going to love your herb garden! My mom used lots of seasonings in her cooking, as do I. I love going out into our herb garden and clipping fresh herbs. Smart to keep your spearmint contained. I did the same. Otherwise it takes over. Thanks for sharing with SYC.
    hugs,
    Jann

    • Thank you so much for that sweet compliment! Your blog is new to me, so I slipped on over to see it, and I am happy to say that I am also sizzling towards sixty. 😉 I also saw that you host a linky, and I will be joining in on your party next week. Thanks!

  12. Pingback: Scraptastic Saturdays Linky Party 132

  13. Your herb garden is lovely and quite inspirational. I’m thinking I need to do that too, in our next house. Good to know about the rosemary being a deer deterrent. I would love to have rosemary hedges surrounding the herb garden, that should do the trick!
    Visiting from the Simple Saturdays blog hop.

    • Actually, many strong, pungent herbs deter deer! Thank you for visiting today, Daisy! I slipped over to your blog and just loved seeing your hodge podge seedlings – especially the tin cans and the toilet paper roll pots… So Clever!

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