Best Way to Select Herbs to Plant

When choosing herbs to plant, a primary consideration should be selecting the right plant for the right place. Selecting herbs that prefer sun for a corner of the garden that only offers shade, or planting a herb that likes fertile conditions in a patch of poor soil, will produce sickly plants and disappointing results. Within these parameters, whatever design you choose will be more effective if you create pleasing contrasts and combinations of colour and form.

Consider choosing some herbs for their flowers: feverfew for its full bouquet of white, daisylike flowers, bee balm for its bright scarlet mop-heads, yarrow for its summer-long display of flat-topped white, rose, or yellow flowers. When planning groups of herbs, look for contrasting colours for bold effects – orange calendulas with lime-green lady’s mantle blossoms. If you prefer the subtle hues of similar colours, combine the grey-green leaves of sage or catnip with blue-flowered flax and silvery-leaved, purple-flowered lavender.

Select Herbs to Plant Best Way to Select Herbs to Plant

Some herbs make dramatic focal points. The evergreen leaves of a clipped bay or rosemary will add structure to a design throughout the year in all but the coldest climates. Tall herbs, such as angelica with its umbels of yellow-green flowers or the striking elecampane, make a less formal focal point. Some herbs add dramatic architectural shape and contrast, including Chinese rhubarb with its huge palm-shaped leaves and graceful feathery-leaved fennel. The coloured leaves of many herbs provide opportunities for attractive groupings and contrasts. Herbs with dark purple leaves or pale to silvery leaves – among them purple sage, lavender, and the artemisias — provide opportunities for attractive contrasts with green leaves. Try different combinations to find plantings that you like.

Upright herbs such as thyme and neatly shaped plants like chives fit into a manicured, formal style, while willowy plants such as dill and fennel or sprawling ones such as mints, catnip, and calendula are best used in an informal or cottage-style design. Low-growing carpeting herbs such as creeping thyme of chamomile can soften the edges of paths or tumble over walls.

Generally, it is best to plant tall species at the back of a border or in the centre of an island bed, and lower-growing species at the front or edge of a border or bed. Groups of plants of the same species stand out more effectively than individual plants, which may get lost. Repeating colours or clumps of the same species in different parts of the garden can create a unifying effect.

Select Herbs to Plant 1 Best Way to Select Herbs to Plant

You will also, of course, choose herbs for when you want your herb garden to be in bloom. Remember to take account of whether they are annuals or biennials, which need to be sown again or replanted every year or two years Perennials or shrubs take a permanent place in the garden.

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