Herbs offer an appealing combination of beauty and usefulness. The sight of a sprawling Victorian herb garden can make one long to enjoy a peaceful afternoon surrounded by the fragrance and enchantment of the colorful herbs. Herbs are so adaptable, they do well in most any environment. Herbs take well to container gardening so even those who live in apartments can enjoy the benefits of an herb garden. Small balconies or patios can become a fragrant oasis in the city. While window gardens of herbs add fresh fragrance to interiors, and keep the herbs close at hand where you will be encouraged to use them often. Kitchens are not the only rooms which can benefit from an herb garden. Herbs can enhance every room of your home. Imagine soothing lavender growing in a bedroom window. As your love affair with herbs increases, you will be surprised how your herb garden will flourish and how Herbs many ways you will find for displaying and using your herbs.
In times long past, herbs were of greater value. Not only did herbs inspire the works of great poets like Shakespeare and Chaucer, herbs were central to the household economy. As well as being used to flavor and preserve foods, and to make medicines for people and livestock, herbs were used to cover floors; to clean, polish and disinfect utensils and to sweeten and purify musty air.
In days of yore, King Henry VIII’s sumptuous feasts included no less than fifty herb varieties consisting of leaves, buds, flowers and roots. Today, with a small patio or window herb garden to provide herbs and edible flowers, a salad fit for a King can grace your everyday table.
Recently there has been a resurgence of interest in herbs. Research on their medicinal and cosmetic uses, and new ideas for the decorative and culinary values of herbs are continually adding to the large body of herbal knowledge and skills. The renewed interest in herbs has many facets. A revival of the culinary arts has increased demand for growing and selling fresh herbs. With a growing interest in cuisine of other cultures, a demand for unusual varieties of herbs has been created. A desire for nutritious food, alternative medicines and a more balanced ecology has further extended our usage of herbs.
Herbs can be used for so much more than just delighting the palate. Potpourri is but one aromatic use of herbs. Others may include fresh dried aromatic herbs sprinkled upon the walkway to bid guests welcome. An herb tea of mint, lavender or lemon balm, added to a cool bath will refresh in the heat of the summer. A bay leaf wreath will add warmth to any home, and when dried, will add spice to the most savory of dishes.
Each update to these pages will feature one or two herbs, including information on growing, harvesting, and utilizing these herbs. Our “Cooking with Herbs” section will also be updated to include several new recipes for each herb featured.