Herb Guide

Herb Guide

More about growing and using herbs

Two Herbs for Summer Color

Calendula and borage add color to your herb garden throughout summer with a succession of long-lasting blooms. These are two of the prettiest herbs you can grow, and they are relatively carefree. Both are annuals, but once they are established in your garden they are eager reseeders, so you'll see them again year after year.

BORAGE (buy borage seeds)
I bought my first packet of borage seeds many years ago, and grew the plants as a companion to tomatoes. Borage actually helps to improve the flavor of tomatoes when grown nearby. I was mislead by an error on the seed packet that said that the plant should not be consumed because it is poisonous, and grew the plant only for it's properties as a companion and it's appearance.

In truth, borage is not poisonous. The leaves have a refreshing cucumber taste, and can be used in salads and chopped up for herb butters and dips. Borage greens are a little too plain-tasting when cooked alone, but when combined with other greens, particularly cabbage, they add a unique flavor. The flowers can be used as a garnish or candied to decorate pastries.


CALENDULA (buy calendula seeds)
Calendula is also called pot marigold, but don't confuse this plant with the marigolds grown in your annual bed (Tagetes). Pot marigolds are smaller and more delicate in appearance than the more familiar Tagetes, and they have a number of medicinal uses.

Calendula is said to encourage healing, aid digestion, fight fungal infections and cure diaper rash. These properties alone are enough to make the plant an essential addition to your herb garden, but it is also has several cosmetic uses. Calendula petals can be used to make a nourishing skin cream or cleanser (see recipe below) and a strong infusion made from marigold petals can be used to lighten hair.

CREAMY MARIGOLD CLEANSER

4 tablespoons olive or almond oil
2 tablespoons dried pot marigold flowers
few drops of violet, orange blossom or rose water

Warm the oil in a bowl placed over a saucepan of hot water. Stir in the dried flowers and continue to heat gently for 30 minutes. Remove from heat, allow to cool, and stir in the flower water.

Lavender Hyssop
(Agastache foeniculum)

This beautiful, fragrant flower makes a wonderful addition to herb gardens, perennial borders, and wildflower areas. Place a pot of Agastache on porches and patios where its fragrance can be fully appreciated. The beauty and fragrance of the flowers make it highly desirable for cutting.

Uses: Used in potpourris and teas. Attracts hummingbirds, butterflies and bees. Crushed leaves can be rubbed on the skin to repel mosquitos. Leaves are sometimes used as a seasoning.

Bergamot
(Monarda fistulosa)

This lovely, fragrant perennial blooms from midsummer to early fall. It looks great in a wildflower meadow and is frequently used in conservation projects and roadside planting. Very desirable in the garden or in containers.

Uses: Used in potpourris and teas. Attracts hummingbirds, butterflies and bees. Bergamot is becomming very popular for use in roadside planting and conservation projects.

About this Author

GardenGuides.com