A wonderful thing about some of our plants is that they’re often double or triple the value stated on the price tag. Don’t you just love those that work hard, grow brilliantly every time, look beautiful for ages, feed pollinators – and us – all for a bargain price? Sounds too good to be true. It’s not, though – I often spend time in my garden admiring such plants, doffing my proverbial cap at their amazing qualities.
Lovely as they are, you often pay through the nose for diva dahlias, roses or unusual varieties of plants like tulips. Pop to the herb section of the garden centre, though, and shelves of pretty plants sit there minding their own business quietly, not giving away their hidden depths.
The trouble is we can be wowed by what’s on offer in the flower sections – tempting bright bedding, perennials and shrubs in full flower, and herbs always look rather unassuming and devoid of wow factor at first glance. Plus they’re always lumped in with the veg, their more humdrum cousins.
This year I’ve weaved loads of different flowering herbs through my pots and borders: they’re given equal importance to everything else, if not more so.
Tall, feathery fennel thrives anywhere, blossoming into the perfect plant with pads of yellow flowers. You can eat the leaves, seeds and blooms. Bees adore borage in beautiful sky-blue, and its flowers can be used in ice cubes and salads. Chives, lavender and rosemary are dependable favourites. Sages are everywhere in my garden – my new love is Salvia elegans ‘Tangerine’, with tall scarlet flowers, which are edible along with incredible tangerine-scented leaves that you can brew or chop up.
Herbs aren’t just cheap. They add flavour, depth and warmth to food, are full of scents and aromas, easy maintenance, long-lasting, naturalistic, loved by wildlife – the perfect eco-friendly plants.