News from the Herb Garden

by Cynthia

My herb garden is looking more and more beautiful each day. Right now I am in love with a certain combination I have planted at the front of the bed.

In the picture below you can find creeping caraway thyme (Thymus herba-barona) in full bloom. Next to the thyme is a dwarf hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis var decumbens ‘Nana’) that is just about ready to begin flowering. When the hyssop does flower it sends up spikes of a gorgeous deep blue and is just covered in them.

Flowering thyme, dwarf hyssop, and variegated oregano

Behind the dwarf hyssop one will find a clump of variegated oregano (Origanum majorana ‘Variegata’). I am not the biggest fan of variegated plants. In fact they really have to be something for me to consider them. This variety of oregano is fantastic in my opinion. Not only is it very pretty with its golden foliage but it is also more well behaved than your common oregano. I have found that oregano can tend to be a little unruly in the garden if it is not contained. I learned this the hard way years ago as my oregano decided to take over the entire herb bed. These days I keep it happy in a nice container all to itself. This variegated oregano however is now three years old and still maintaining this tidy size. The leaves are also edible and not quite as strong as your typical oregano.

Another tidbit of news from the herb garden right now is the German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) is once again bursting forth with apple scented blooms. I started a few seeds of chamomile three years ago and now the rest is history. As long as a little bit of chamomile is allowed to go to seed each year I will never have to plant it again. It is a very prolific self-sower and volunteers can and will come up everywhere. I actually love this as it is such a pretty little flower that is also very useful. Chamomile can be pulled up very easily too just in case it happens to come up in an area I do not want it to grow. This year I am using it as a filler plant in the vegetable garden. Chamomile will set its flowers and go to seed rather quickly no matter how much you harvest it’s sweetly scented blooms. By midsummer I yank the spent plants that are starting to be crowded out by other garden neighbors.  This is what I am doing with the Tomatillos I am growing this year. All around them you will find chamomile beginning to bloom. Once the tomatillos start to get large it will be time to send the chamomile to the compost heap (which happens to have chamomile sprouting all around it).

Chamomile in BloomChamomile that has self-sown at willSelf sown chamomile and borage

With this much chamomile in bloom right now you will find me out every morning after the dew has dried plucking the white daisy-like flowers and dropping them into my colander. I like to collect the blooms in my colander because the little holes give an escape route for the little critters that also find the blooms so enticing. Chamomile in bloom does an amazing job of attracting beneficial insects to the garden.

Freshly harvested chamomile flowers

Once I have gathered all I can (or all a two year old little girl will let me) I bring the flowers inside to dry. I have mentioned on here more than once that my preferred method for drying herbs is in the oven with just the light on. I have found chamomile retains it’s lovely scent very nicely this way.

The herb garden is my absolute favorite spot in the entire garden. I just love how useful as well as beautiful herbs can be. I think the combination at the beginning of today’s post does a good job showing just how pretty a herb garden can be. I just cannot stop looking at that combination! Are there any combinations in your garden right now that you cannot take your eyes from?

All photos from this post can be clicked on to enlarge.
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