Nothing says “Summer” like the taste of a cool, freshly-muddled drink or the savory aroma of a crisp, garden dish on a hot night. The use of herbs can enhance just about any meal or drink and growing your own will supply you with a bounty of flavorful ingredients, attractive plantings, and gorgeous patio aromas all season long!
When it comes to summery dishes, you can’t go wrong with a classic Italian pesto, fresh-from-the-garden pizza sauce or an icy mojito, but the options don’t end there! There’s a wealth of unique herbs to bring new flavors and colors to your herb bed; here are a few of our current favorites!
- Marjoram- Marjoram boasts a flavor of sweet pine and citrus, perfect for any Mediterranean-style dish, plus sauces, soups and meats. For a pop of bright, chartreuse color in your planter bed, try Golden-Tip Marjoram (shown to the right). It’s delicious with tomatoes, pizza, and egg dishes!
2) Oregano Varieties– No Mediterranean dish is the same without oregano; it’s the go-to seasoning for the best sauces, salads, pizzas, and more! If you like a little more pizazz with your dishes, try a Hot and Spicy variety; or if you prefer the mild side, try out a Variegated Oregano, perfect for use in salsa and vegetable dishes. Oregano can bring more to the table, though! Ornamental and Golden varieties provide a gorgeous pop of color and texture to your beds and planters all season long!
3) Pineapple Sage– For many of us, sage brings to mind hearty meat dishes, infused butters, and savory egg dishes. Pineapple sage, on the other hand, is all about complimenting summer favorites! With an aroma and flavor very similar to pineapple, this herb is a perfect addition to fruit salads, fresh garden salads and cocktails. Growing 3-4’ height, it has gorgeous red blooms and is a fantastic pollinator!
4) Thyme Varieties-Thyme is a garden classic, and an excellent addition to both your culinary and ornamental planters. Standard thyme is delicious in butters and spreads, meat marinades and rubs, and as a topping for roasted vegetables. Some of the unique varieties that we love this year are:
- Silver Thyme: A beautiful, variegated silver foliage that works great in mixed planters and gives off a lovely lemon scent, but can also be used in culinary dishes similar to traditional thyme.
- Lime Thyme: a bright, eye-catching color and citrus scent make this variety a great pick for ornamental planers.
- Lemon Thyme: Brings a fresh, citrus flavor to meat and vegetable dishes and is best added at the very end of cooking to maintain the most flavor.
5) Mint Varieties- Mint is a fast-spreading, easy to grow perennial that will be a garden staple year after year. Adding it to your beds can even help deter ants and flies! We’re all pretty familiar with mint as the flavor boost for fresh drinks and summery desserts, but there are plenty of varieties available besides just the standard:
- Corsican mint: A very low ground cover, this variety gives off an intense, refreshing peppermint aroma and flavor. It’s a fantastic choice for beverages, especially tea.
- Indian Mint: This variety is perfect for hanging planters, and gives great flavor to tea, culinary dishes (especially lamb), and is known to relieve headache tension.
- Apple Mint: One of our absolute favorites, apple mint is a must-use for your summer beverages like lemonade, infused water, and cocktails! Also try it out with peas, salad dressings, tomatoes and broccoli.
Whether you are a “seasoned” pro or new to the world of gardening, herbs are an incredible asset to your garden and an easy addition. Most will thrive in containers as well as planter beds, and some can even be brought indoors through the winter months. Note that plenty of sunlight and proper soil drainage are key in any herb planting. Create a bed near your kitchen so that you can snip fresh herbs to add to meals as you are cooking; plus, you’ll enjoy their aromas all season!
Stop in at our garden center to check out these outstanding herbs, plus plenty of others! Our knowledgeable staff is here to help you select the perfect plants for your needs and get you started on the right foot. Also, keep an eye out for our herb classes coming up in July (click here to follow our events on Facebook). Until next time, happy planting!