Herbs Have Everything Flavor Aroma Good Looks

Small Garden Ideas #9You do have space for herbs and spring is the time to plant them…

Rosemary may be for remembrance, but there are at least four other herbs which the gardener should keep in mind this spring. There is room for lavender, parsley, basil and chives in even the postage-stamp plot (next to the garden steps), and others, equally decorative and delicious, can be added by the gardener who has so much space they can even plant an herb garden.

Lavender is a perennial and handsome both for its gray foliage and slender spikes of flowers. Even the dullest nose will react to the pleasant, clean fragrance of both its leaves and flowers. Planted in groups of three to five among other perennial ilowers, lavender can be cherished for its purely decorative effects. Or tuck a plant here and there near steps or by walks and doorways. There will be enough flower heads to dry for drawers and linen shelves. lf you are fortunate enough to be traveling in England this summer, you’ll see lavender beds and clumps and hedges and you’ll wonder how any garden can get along without it.

assorted herbs planted in a strawberry pot

Parsley is a plebeian plant by contrast, but still to most cooks it is necessary; and its crisp good looks and rich green color are assets to the eyes. Plant seeds this spring, or buy young plants. You can plant it in the vegetable garden, but it is handsome enough to serve as an edging to flower beds or walks. ln the fall, pot up a plant or two and keep an indoor supply of parsley growing on a sunny sill all winter.

Chives, most delicate member of the onion family, are worth growing for their grassy foliage and abundant lilac pompons in early summer. Include a few plants in the flower garden for their decorative effect, placing them within easy reach so you can snip the foliage all season for use in omelets, salads, cottage cheese, and other dishes where a hint of onion flavor is desired.

Basil is essential to any cook interested in making Italian dishes, but beyond this, it is the best possible companion for tomatoes sliced, broiled, stewed and in sauces. While you may be able to buy small containers of dried basil at your grocery store, it can’t approach fresh basil for delicious aroma and flavor. Basil is foolproof from seeds. A packet will give enough plants for you and all the neighbors.

Those four herbs are just a beginning. A mint or two should certainly join them for summer drinks. Mint is one of the few herbs which likes slightly damp, rich soil and light shade (most are sun lovers, prefer lean, dry soil). Put a clump of mint near a hose outlet but not too far from the barbecue area, or terrace, or kitchen entrance. There’s hardly a long drink from iced tea to a Kentucky julep that a few sprigs of spearmint won’t enhance.

The hardy sage, with its characteristic pungence and silvery netted foliage, is a standby for the sensible, down toearth cook for use in meat dishes and stuffings. It is a perennial, and once planted it can be counted on year after year. As it produces rather straggly growth, it isn’t a candidate for a showoff spot, though.

Here, then, is a handful of herbs for a good start. You may eventually want to look up some of the old and not so old books on herbs, many of which are among the finest in garden literature.

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