Fresh Garden Herbs

July 19th, 2010

Of all the plants that I have grown in my garden this year, the herb patch brings me the most pleasure.  These sturdy plants remain icily unfazed by whatever creeping pestilence is plaguing the rest of my garden.  They don’t wilt overnight for no apparent reason or blacken with some horrible fungus from incessant rainfall or become infested with slimy green eggs dropped from the back end of some wretched bug.  They just grow.  And they look pretty.  And they smell good, all the while looking down their noses at the weaker plants around them who so easily succumb to bugs, disease, and a lackluster gardener.  I like to pinch off their leaves and rub them between my thumb and fingers breathing in their heady scent when I am pulling weeds and watering.  It’s cheap aroma therapy and works wonders to revive an embattled gardener who is up against an army of squash bugs.

Also -  the herbs make everything that I cook taste much better.

Top center – dill

Purple leaves are basil

Across from the basil is cilantro

Underneath the purple basil is sage.

Underneath the sage is lemon balm.

The one with the tiny purple flowers is oregano

To the right (your right) of the oregano is lime basil.

Did you get all that?

Or should I go through it again?

The lime basil has a wonderful citrusy smell, but a peppery, basil taste.  It’s kind of like an herb that is having an identity crisis.  Perhaps it just turned 40?

Oregano is a perennial.  I did not know this when I planted it last year and was surprised to find a clump of it growing this Spring in a happy, unperturbed mass by the fence.  When I discovered it, I briefly became a happy unperturbed mass as well.

Dill – probably one of the most easily recognized herbs, but you still feel kind of smart and earthy and extra wholesome if you can identify it in a public place while lots of people are standing around you whom you wish to impress.

Here we have chopped purple basil, lime basil, oregano and lemon balm.  I frequently add chopped herbs just like this to whatever I am cooking -  sprinkling it on chicken and chops.  But sometimes I really outdo myself and make a quick sauce of mayonnaise, parmesan, salt and a little garlic and then add the chopped herbs to the mixture, spreading it on whatever is about to go in the oven for dinner.  This is particularly good on fish creating a rich, fragrant, golden herbed crust that is absolutely delicious.


Thinking of starting a small garden of your own?

Might I suggest the herbs?

They are a perfectly painless, particularly pretty patch.

And tasty too!


  • Yum! My herbs are just starting to show up the lazy gits. Not sure what got into them this year. Dagnabbit! I need fresh pesto! And so I drool over your offerings.

    (My friends are no longer amazed when I find some tasty plant amongst the wilds and start nibbling on it. Bummer. I taught them too well.)

  • km:

    now I’m hungry !!!!!!!

  • barb:

    My herbs are easily the most successful plants in my garden too. They seem to thrive on being neglected.

  • I do love love love my fresh herbs! So happy to have a wee garden plot out front of my house…and that my downstairs neighbors water it!

  • Mine aren’t doing so well (probably doesn’t help that I’m an apartment dweller and growing them all in pots instead of an actual, real garden). All my cilantro died before it ever had a chance, and my basil never even sprouted. Yes, I am jealous. Insanely fucking jealous. But also super happy for you! :)

  • Kait:

    Love your pics. Herbs are so pretty. However I am going to start an “I HATE Cilantro website”. It should be outlawed. Just because all the freaks on the Food Network put in everything does not mean the rest of the world can stand it. Bleck. Ruins everything it touches in my opinion. I know I am not alone in this. I have to peer closely at any green stuff served to me lately. And I have had to stop going to Taco Del Mar as they have started putting it in their salsa. I have sent hate mail all to no avail. Perhaps I should consult Dear Charles.

  • I love growing herbs. I planted fennel several years ago and it always comes up and looks so beautiful every year. I really have not used it in recipes much as I don’t really like that licorice taste.

  • Alison:

    I want to plant lots of herbs next year. Or maybe I’ll just start now. We live in the south and won’t have a freeze until November.
    By the way–I saw two flies doing it on a sunflower leaf and thought of you. I almost took a picture and emailed it to you. The internet has made my life so bizarre!!

  • GA in GA:

    Herbs are always awesome.

    But apparently you have no Swallowtail Butterflies . . . I do. Therefore my parsley, dill, and fennel have been eaten to stubs. This is actually okay with me, as I love the caterpillars in spite of their wholesale consumption of said herbs. Once they are full and fat, I know the caterpillars will soon go hide, only to emerge as beautiful butterflies.

  • I have a small herb garden at our country house which I love. Yours puts mine to shame. Enjoy!