Jeanne Grunert is a freelance writer, blogger and book author from south central Virginia. Her books include "Plan and Build a Raised Bed Vegetable Garden" and many others, available on Amazon and wherever fine books are sold. Learn more about Jeanne, her books and her garden at


Herbs as Ornamental Plants
by Jeanne Grunert - posted 06/10/16

I have to admit: I'm an herbie, an herbaphile, an herb lover. An herbarian. Someone who loves herbs. My garden is sprinkled liberally with their magical touch. Rosemary and calendula line the garden paths, and thyme and oregano creep among the stones surroudning my little garden pond. Mint has taken over the flower bed near the garage, which is just fine for me - I love nothing better than an afternoon cup of freshly brewed mint tea. And sage? I've got sage tucked among the butterfly plants and in an area of the garden that has such dry, sandy soil that few things except sage and my beloved lavender grow.


Why do I grow so many herbs? There's something about having a useful yet beautiful plant in the garden that appeals to me. Many herbs not only provide tasty or fragrant leaves and flowers, they also support local pollinating insects. Bees seem drunk on lavender nectar. The native Virginia butterfly, the Eastern Swallowtail Caterpillar, loves to clamor aboard dill and parsley, leaving behind her precious cargo of eggs to hatch and feed on the leaves. The more I learn about the herbs in my garden, the more I appreciate their beauty and versatility.


We often think of herbs as "special" plants that deserve a place of honor in the garden, perhaps their own neat little circle complete with a sundial in the center. While that's quite charming, it's almost impossible for most gardeners to have their own special herb garden. That's anothe reason why I advocate planting herbs liberally among your flowers and vegetables. Not only do they add useful plants to the garden, but many pair quite nicely with other plants, acting as companions to boost bloom, repel insects, or attract pollinators to increase your garden yield.


If you grow too many herbs - is there even such a thing as too many herbs? - you can air dry them or use a fruit and vegetable dehydrator to quickly preserve the bounty. Many herbs, such as lavender and rosemary, can be cut with long stems, bundled, and hung upside down inside the house to dry. It's a time-honored method of drying herbs for future use.


Cooking with herbs, crafting with herbs, or simply enjoying them in the garden, herbs planted among the flowers are reminiscent of the Middle Ages, when monastery gardens were the healing centers of towns and herbs were considered part of one's pantry. Try planting some herbs among your flowers today.



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