My front garden’s raised beds are currently in need of an overhaul. For the last few months, I’ve been brainstorming a fresh design for this area, envisioning it brimming with a vibrant mix of perennial herbs, vegetables, and fruits.
The layout of my front garden poses unique challenges. Its unusual shape and steep slope complicate the installation of a standard irrigation system.
Our plan involves removing the existing raised beds and introducing curved swale planting beds instead. I intend to border each swale bed with perennial herbs, which will not only add structural integrity to the beds but also prevent the mulch from scattering onto the surrounding gravel paths.
We’ve already marked out the locations for the new swales, planning to create a total of seven across the front garden. I have a particular fondness for perennial herbs and consider them among my most cherished plants. This month, I’ll be propagating my top 10 favorite herbs using cuttings and seedlings in the greenhouse!
In my terraced garden’s redesign, the first row of swales will feature rosemary. This herb, known for its resilience, is perfectly suited for the garden’s most demanding spot.
Rosemary is a star performer in my sandy soil, showing remarkable tolerance to drought, wind, and heat.
Capable of reaching heights of up to 2 meters and spreading about a meter wide, rosemary will form a protective hedge. This hedge will not only serve a functional purpose but will also be easy to maintain in a neat shape. As a frequent user of rosemary for various home and beauty products, such as bath soaks and hair treatments, I’m excited about having an increased supply.
In culinary uses, rosemary proves to be versatile. Its stalks can be used as aromatic skewers for grilling vegetables, and a small bunch serves as a perfect brush to apply olive oil during cooking.
I’ve decided to cultivate the Munstead variety of lavender in my garden, known for its compact growth. This lavender reaches a moderate size of about 60cm in both height and width, ensuring it won’t overshadow the nearby vegetable plants. Its purple flowers, renowned for their delightful fragrance, bloom twice a year.
Lavender is not only robust but also drought-resistant once established, requiring minimal care beyond occasional deadheading.
This plant is particularly beneficial in a garden as its flowers attract helpful pollinators while deterring various flies and beetles. Lavender is an excellent companion for most vegetables and annuals due to these properties.
For a touch of formal elegance, I plan to place a lavender bush at each end of the swales. The flowers of lavender are not only visually appealing and fragrant but also a key component in homemade herbal remedies.
Helichrysum, often referred to as immortelle or mistakenly as the curry leaf plant due to its savory aroma, is a remarkable addition to any garden.
This eye-catching plant features light silver foliage and produces vibrant yellow flowers. It reaches a height of about 60cm and spreads up to 40cm, thriving in full sun and showing drought resistance once established.
Contrary to what its nickname might suggest, the leaves of helichrysum are not commonly used in curry dishes. However, they can be sparingly incorporated into culinary creations to add a savory note. Additionally, their strong scent can act as a deterrent to cats and dogs that may otherwise disturb the garden.
The true gem of this plant is its stunning yellow flower. When used in infusions for oils or glycerine, it becomes a valuable ingredient for skincare, particularly beneficial for mature skin.
In our household, parsley is a staple, often used more like a salad green than a herb due to its frequent use. Although not technically a perennial, it can thrive for several years in the garden before needing to be replanted.
Parsley typically grows to about 50cm in spread. It adapts well to partially shaded areas and prefers well-drained soil.
I’ve recently acquired an Egyptian large-leaf variety of parsley from Yilgarn Seeds, notable for its exceptional heat tolerance and its slow tendency to bolt to seed. Impressively, even on extremely hot days, it quickly recovers its vigor with a bit of water and cooler evening temperatures.
While parsley and lettuce may not be the best of neighbors in the garden, parsley serves as an excellent companion plant for almost everything else!
Thyme, known for its delicate yet pungent character, is another resilient herb. Once established, it can withstand wind, heat, and drought with minimal care, requiring only light and infrequent trimming.
This herb grows to approximately 30 cm in height and is adorned with delicate pink flowers that attract beneficial pollinators like bees. Thyme is particularly beneficial in the garden as a companion plant for tomatoes and brassicas, helping to promote a healthy and vibrant garden ecosystem.
Garlic chives and onion chives bring distinct flavors and appearances to the garden. Garlic chives, known for their strong taste, feature white flowers and flat leaves. In contrast, the milder onion chives are characterized by their pink flowers and tubular leaves. Both varieties reach a height of about 30cm, with their flowers extending up to 50cm tall.
Chives are highly valued in culinary use for their subtle onion flavor, making them an essential ingredient in various dishes.
In the garden, chives serve as an excellent companion, particularly for carrots, enhancing their growth. They also promote the healthy development of a wide range of plants, including broccoli, cabbage, eggplant, kohlrabi, mustard, peppers, potatoes, rhubarb, roses, squash, strawberries, and tomatoes, making them a versatile and beneficial addition to any garden.
Echinaceas, commonly referred to as purple coneflowers, are available in a wide variety of colors. These plants can grow up to 60cm tall and spread about 30cm wide.
They are remarkably resilient, thriving in poor soils and tolerating conditions like drought, low rainfall, and high heat. This makes echinaceas both an aesthetically pleasing and practical choice for gardens.
Many enthusiasts of echinacea advocate for its health benefits, believing that the herb boosts the immune system and helps alleviate symptoms associated with colds, flu, and infections, positioning it as a general health tonic.
Sage is a favorite of mine, with its textured leaves reminiscent of a cat’s tongue. Its beautiful fragrance is a perfect complement to roast vegetables.
This herb can reach up to 90cm in both height and spread. It thrives in heat, though it doesn’t fare well in humid conditions, and prefers well-drained soil.
I plan to cultivate both green and purple varieties of sage, which are excellent companion plants for brassicas. The flowers of sage not only add a lovely touch to salads but are also highly attractive to bees.
Yarrow, despite its delicate lacy white flowers and fine leaves, is a surprisingly robust and vigorous herb, growing up to 60cm tall. Its resilience, particularly its drought tolerance, makes it an ideal choice for planting on swales and for preventing soil erosion.
Medicinally, yarrow is quite versatile. It’s often used as a natural remedy in the garden, akin to a botanical leaf band-aid, to help stop bleeding from minor cuts or scratches.
I plan to cultivate both white and pink varieties of yarrow. This herb is not only attractive to beneficial pollinators, such as ladybirds that feed on aphids, but also serves as an excellent companion plant. Yarrow thrives when planted near a variety of vegetables including brassicas, tomatoes, melons, eggplants, beans, and spinach.
Agastache, commonly known as anise hyssop, is renowned for its licorice-like fragrance. It boasts striking feathered blue flowers that are highly attractive to beneficial pollinators.
This herb can reach a height of up to 90cm and spread around 60cm. Among the herbs in my list, it’s perhaps the most delicate, prompting me to choose the shadiest spot in my garden for its placement. Nevertheless, agastache is still fairly robust. Once established, it can tolerate heat, although it benefits from frequent watering and protection from intense direct sunlight.
To maintain its vitality and encourage new growth, it’s important to deadhead the spent flowers after blooming and trim back the plant by about a third.
My current dilemma involves choosing between two garden layouts: mixing all these herbs together for a varied, natural look or planting them in separate rows for a more formal, organized appearance. What would be your recommendation?
Are any of these herbs part of your garden? If you had to pick, which perennial herb would be your favorite? I’m eager to hear your thoughts and experiences. Please feel free to share your insights in the comments below!