Herbs add flavor to food and provide extra scent and color in your garden. They are among the oldest cultivated plants and are as fascinating now as they were hundreds of years ago. Herbs can be annual, biennial or perennial. Most have modest flowers, but some have very showy flowers, while others have quite striking leaves. Many herbs attract bees and butterflies, which adds even more interest to your garden. Here are the 10 most popular herbs for you to consider.
1. Basil is a half-hardy annual with shiny green leaves; it is great in tomato dishes. It grows up to two feet and needs shelter, sun, and regular pinching out to keep it small.
2. Bay is often grown as a small, pyramid bush and can reach sixty feet if grown in the wild. However, it is quite slow growing in pots, so you don’t have to worry about it getting this tall in your garden. You can use bay leaves in stews and sauces, and it is especially tasty in spaghetti sauce.
3. Chervil is a delicate, ferny annual or biennial. It grows to about one foot tall and has a peppery taste, which is quite strong if used fresh in soup or salad dishes. You can harvest this herb all winter long if planted in a sunny, sheltered spot.
4. Chives have tidy, grassy leaves and a mild onion flavor. They grow to be about six inches high. These are perhaps the most popular herbs used and grown today. They are most commonly used in salads and in potato dishes, as well as a garnish.
5. Dill is an annual that grows to be about three feet high. It has delicate, feathery leaves and strong-scented seeds. Its flat yellow flowers make a great border in any flower garden. Dill is often used with fish, eggs and tomatoes, as well as in pickling.
6. Garlic has a very distinct flavor that is used to enhance meat, vegetables and salad dressings. It is very easy to grow; you can plant single cloves in the spring and have complete heads of garlic by late summer.
7. Mint is very prolific in its propagation; it grows to be about twenty-four inches tall and spread very rapidly. If you plant it in a garden, you might want to put it in a pot to keep it from overtaking the other plants. It is traditional to use mint jelly with lamb and fresh mint with peas and new potatoes.
8. Parsley is considered to be the most popular herb because it can be used to enhance any savory dish. It is a biennial, but sometimes grown as an annual, and grows to be about two feet tall. The fern-leafed plants make a very attractive border.
9. Sage comes in many different varieties; all are hardy shrubs that benefit from annual spring pruning. This herb is traditionally used in turkey stuffing, but is also popular with poultry and cheese.
10. Tarragon is a floppy, course perennial, about two feet tall. It has a fresh, tart taste and is used in fish, chicken and seafood dishes.