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Expanding my herb horizon

Written by Carolyn on December 9th, 2011.      3 comments

overgrownsm

WHAT TO PLANT IN A HERB GARDEN?

I'm not sure if I have achieved what I wanted in the herb garden this year or whether I am in real trouble!  I've always longed for a bountiful, overflowing herb garden, with herbs and flowers tumbling over the garden edges.    But now I am wondering whether I may have taken it a step too far!
 
heartsease

I sprinkled a packet of Heartsease over the herb garden in early Spring and I think every one of those seeds germinated because the herb garden is filled with these cheerful little flowers.  They are one of my favourites, so I didn't want to pull any out.  I think the birds moved a few of them around because they seem to be coming up in lots of places where they weren't sown.   I like the saying that a weed is just a plant in the wrong place.  I'm starting to think that some of the heartsease plants have now morphed into weeds - there are so many in the herb garden now that they are burying my (very small) lavender plants and I have completely lost the tarragon.
 
herb garden 3sm

In my enthusiasm, I also planted quite a few other flowers in the herb garden:  there are stock, snapdragons, delphiniums, some very loyal nasturtiums which keep re-appearing every year, and the new addition of some very cute little ladybird poppies.  The herb garden is also my "garden without rules" where I slip in the odd vegetable seedling that won't fit into its proper place in the vege garden.  I love the mixed-up hodge-podge of plants but I'm not sure that my husband does.
 
poppysm

Anyway, lately I have been looking at the herb garden with new eyes and I think some of those pretty little heartsease plants are going to have to come out, if only to make room, because I have just had my eyes opened up to a whole new range of plants I need to fit in (gulp!).
 

My main focus for herbs up until now has been culinary (with a focus on pizzas!).  We wouldn't like to go without our thyme, rosemary, sage and oregano, and I would hate to be parsley-less! 
 
chamomilesm
 
Other favourites in the herb garden are lemon verbena, lemon balm and chamomile, all for picking for herbal tea.  But now I can see some glaring omissions.  There is a reason for this ....  I have just taken up soapmaking as a hobby.   I've been having a lovely time reading up on skincare properties of plants (but I am still a rank amateur, I would hasten to add) in order to make infusions to add to my soap - you can see the results of this below - cucumber-mint, chamomile and calendula are some of the soaps I have made so far.
 
soap montage

So now that I have expanded my herb horizon beyond the culinary, there is a whole new range of herbs that I would like to fit into the garden.  Some of the herbs useful for skincare and soapmaking are comfrey, echinacea and marshmallow, and lavender flowers are a very pretty addition to soap.  
 
 

The plant I most want to add to the herb garden, however, is calendula!  My friend Jen kindly let me pick great quantities of her calendula flowers.  After drying the petals in the dehydrator, they were ready to add to the soap.  The calendula soap is my favourite so far - with its pretty speckles of calendula petals it just begs to be used!

So I think some of the heartsease will just have to go.  But only some of it!
Topics: herbs
 

3 Comments

all bok services says ...
I love gardening and planting different plants but i never used to plant any herbs in my garden now after going through this blog i think too should have try some herbs in my garden. Thanks Carolyn for the inspiration.
Carolyn, Kings Seeds says ...
I might try that, Margo. Most botanicals go brown over time when added to soap - the saponification reaction affects them. Calendula is one of the few that keeps its colour. I suspect that the violas would discolour.
Margo says ...
Maybe you could try making Hartsease-soap?