Flowering herbs in my garden | Summer

Memories of Summer herbs

Now we are into November, and Autumn is truly upon us, I’m enjoying looking back at a Summer of flowers in my Sussex garden.

borders with herbs in my back garden

My back garden – bronze fennel, roses and geraniums, golden hop and self-seeded cerinthe.

The term ‘herb’ is pleasingly general

I look around my garden and see many plants which have been of use to previous generations. It’s lovely to find that plants I have grown for their decorative nature can also be put to good use in times of need. Saponaria used as a herbal detergent in my previous post is a good example.

Self-seeded herbs

borage herb hammock

Self-seeded borage herbs flowering in the veg plot of my summer garden. I often use it as a cucumbery addition to Pimms and fruit punch – I hear you can freeze it into ice cubes too – perfect for a G&T !

self seeded herbs

Marjoram self-seeded in the cracks on my patio – I hang the flowers in small bunches to dry for potpourri making. The borage in my veg patch produced a second generation this year and was joined by self-seeded evening primrose and geraniums.

Making herb tea

herbs growing in my garden mint

I grow mint in pots in my garden to stop it spreading. I make tea from the fresh leaves. When it starts flowering I cut it back to encourage new leafy growth. I do the same with my lemon balm although the flowers aren’t so eyecatching.

lavender herbs in pots

Mint is not the only herb I like to grow in pots. I grow three plants of lavender for tea in zinc florist buckets with holes drilled in the bottom. Of course lavender flowers can be dried and stored for use year round. If I remember rightly this variety is Lavandula angustifolia ‘Munstead’.

My favourite roses and geraniums

I love making potpourri from flowers in my garden. Rose petals add fragrance and colour in shades of pink, while hardy geraniums are not particularly fragrant but do dry to pleasing shades of blue and purple. I used my favourite Rosa Mundi petals amongst others in my potpourri recipes for Herbs magazine September issue*.

roses geraniums

Clockwise from top left: Rosa mutabilis varies in shade between dark and light pink; Geranium palmatum is bigger with more decorative leaves than most species; Rosa mundi has a long history in this country, prettily striped flowers and a great fragrance; a bee visiting geranium x magnificum.

See what herbs were flowering in my garden in Spring

*Herbs is the journal of the Herb Society and is published quarterly. Download our membership leaflet top right of this page to find out about joining.

 

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Visit Plantasia at Kew for Herb Heaven

Herb information in abundance at Plantasia

I visited Kew in the first week of June with friends, not realising that Plantasia was on. It’s a really informative project, with signage everywhere, explaining the usefulness of a variety of plants.

Experience the life-enhancing power of plants at the Kew Gardens Summer Plantasia Festival until 7 September 2014.

Of course we made a bee-line for the glasshouses, and the herb garden was a must.

kew glasshouse

Kew glasshouses

 

The herb garden at Kew

Although of a manageable size, the herb garden was packed with informative signs, not just about individual plants, but also the uses of herbs, such as traditional strewing herbs and herbs thought to ward off the plague in times past.

Kew garden herb borders

Kew garden herb borders

 Many wayside flowers have had herbal uses

These common flowers were all thought to have their uses:

cranesbill herb info

Cranesbill with herb info sign

According to the sign, Geranium pratense was known by Gerard as Crowfoote cranesbill, and in 1597 he wrote:
“Cranesbill with the Blew Flower is an excellent thing to heale wounds.”

oxeye daisy  herb info

Oxeye daisy info sign

Leucanthemum vulgare or Oxeye daisy:
“The juice, decoction, or distilled water, is drunke to a very good purpose against the rupture or any inward burstings.” Gerard 1597

Personally, inward burstings are not something I think about on a daily basis!

bistort herb info

Bistort plant info

Polygonum bistorta or Snakeweed:
“Both the leaves and the rootes of Bistort have a powerfull facultie to resist all poyson.”
Parkinson 1640

The bumblebees were working in force when we visited. They loved the Salvia officinalis inside the herb garden, and also the lavender beds in the adjoining Queens garden.

Kew bumblebees on herbs

Bumblebees on sage and lavender

 Outside the Herb garden

Wandering elsewhere around Kew, we came across many more information points, for example Houttuynia cordata was signposted in the borders as being a plant of much importance to Chinese medicine, having antibacterial properties.

houttuynia cordata plant info

Houttuynia cordata herbal properties

As part of Plantasia, there was even a gin bar serving a selection of botanical alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, with recipes to try at home.

around Kew

Candelebra primulae and refreshments at Kew gardens

A variety of useful plants are featured in this festival: find out more about them on the Kew Gardens website.