First the shrubs - you can find space for some of these in your ornamental garden
Rosemary - An ornamental shrub which loves a dry garden, has lovely blue flowers which appear early in the year. Bees love them and you can pinch out the tips of the plant to add to lamb, new potatoes as you roast them in their skins or to casseroles.
Thyme - This low, spreading shrub comes in lots of shades of green and gold and can make a carpet over poor ground or add interest to a paved area. Snap off the young growth as you need it - but remember to trim it regularly to stop it from becoming leggy.
Sage - A member of the very large salvia family, salvia officinalis is the one you want to plant for culinary use. We grow purple and gold. As with rosemary and thyme they do well in dry sunny spots and work well in Mediterranean style beds.
Next the bulbs and perennials - give these a permanent place in your vegetable garden.
Mint – So easy to grow that if you do not control it, it will take over your garden. It spreads vigorously, so plant it in a container to restrict it.
Tarragon – A personal favourite. I use it to make vinegars and with chicken and rabbit dishes. It is not invasive, but can grow tall and leggy over the summer, so give it space. Plant it in a permanent, sunny position and cut it back to promote fresh young growth.
Oregano - Like basil, this is a taste of summer. Keep it well pruned so that there is always a supply of young leaves to pick and chop into salads, garnishes and Mediterranean recipes.
Chives – A member of the onion family, chives can be grown from seed or bought as a clump of bulbs which will spread over the years. It is pretty – with purple flowers in the early summer - and is invaluable as a garnish or addition to an omelette or salad. Chives also look attractive in a flower bed or in pot by the back door.
Parsley – Traditionally sown at the end of winter, legend has it that you can only get the seeds to germinate if a woman is the boss in a household. It is biennial - that is you sow it in year one and harvest the leaves. In year two it runs to seed. You can still pick the leaves early in the year, but once it sets seed it will die. So sow some every year.
I sow these every year:
Dill - I sow it several times during the year. Pay attention to the watering as if you let it dry out it quickly runs to seed and dies. And a word of warning - If you plant it near to fennel there is a danger that they will cross pollenate creating a hybrid (which I call fiddle).
Basil – I love this - it is the herb of high summer. Sow seeds or buy plants in the market. You can even plant out the little pots you get in the supermarket vegetable section. My own favourite is Genovese basil, which has large leaves and a good flavour.
This photograph shows chives, oregano and last year's parsley (starting to flower and run to seed already). It was taken on April 27th.