There are many reasons gardeners choose to grow herbs. As rich in fragrance as they are in lore, herbs have been grown for the kitchen as well as the apothecary, and their history is well documented in ancient drawings and written works.
Easy to grow indoors as well as out, herbs are a popular addition to the garden. Favorites are based on the intended use of the harvest, though many herbs are as popular to the cook as they are to the crafter and can be found in the gardens of both.
Many gardeners grow herbs simply because they are an easy to grow aromatic addition to their landscape. Because most herbs will grow in almost any type of soil and will thrive in any sunny spot, they are easy to tuck into areas that need a quick cover or a bit of color. Common ornamental herbs include lavender, bee balm, creeping thyme, sweet basil and oregano.
Good cooks are familiar with the properties of herbs and don't hesitate to flavor their creations with fresh or dried leaves and flowers. While some recipes call for a strong, robust flavor to carry the dish, other herbs with more subtle volatile oils simply accent the food. Common strong culinary herbs include sage, winter savory and rosemary. Herbs that are strong enough to accent food include sweet basil, sweet marjoram, thyme, tarragon, dill and mint. Parsley, chives and summer savory are considered common blending herbs.
Herbs have been used throughout history for a variety of ailments, and their use in home remedies is still popular today. While it is important to have a medical diagnosis for chronic problems, many sufferers can find relief from temporary ailments in nature. Herbs, like other ingested substances, can sometimes cause allergic reactions and may often interfere with over the counter and prescribed medications.
The most common medicinal herbs are chamomile for stress, angelica for its antibacterial and antiseptic properties, calendula for cuts and wounds, catnip as a cold remedy and to treat upset stomachs and headaches, sweet basil and ginger for occasional indigestion, feverfew to treat muscle spasms and headache and yarrow which can be used to treat a cold with a fever.
Some herbs are so common that they are considered weeds. The dreaded dandelion has long been considered both a medicinal and culinary herb. The thistle is considered to be a noxious weed by most people, but throughout history it has been used for its beneficial properties and considered a valuable medicinal herb.