Anise Hyssop: Agastache foeniculum: Perennial: Not related to Anise or Hyssop, Anise Hyssop is a gorgeous addition to the garden. It is grown mainly for its outstanding attractiveness amidst garden borders as well as to beneficials in the garden: bees, parasitic wasps, butterflies, hummingbirds, and goldfinches. The flowers and leaves are edible and can be used in baking or to make an eye catching fresh tea- traditionally used by Native Americans as a cough syrup, and a traditional poultice for burns. The flowers dry beautifully and have a scent with combinations of licorice, lemon, pine, sage, and pepper. It can grow 3’ tall and up to 2’ wide. – Transplant 10-18” apart.
Basil, Genovese: Ocimum basilicum: Annual- The most popular variety of basil, due to its authentic flavor and appearance. Tall and relatively slow to bolt with large dark green leaves, it can grow to 30” tall. Wonderful for pesto! It can also be easily dried for your own winter use; hang fresh- picked bouquets upside down in an airy location. You will be able to delight in your own dried basil all throughout the winter. Basil enjoys full sun. Transplant 4-8” apart.
Basil, Thai: Ocimum basilicum: Annual- This is a smaller leafed plant, with purple stems, and will eventually bloom pink-purple flowers. Thai Basil is native to Southeast Asia. The leaves have a distinct flavor of anise and licorice, with a slight spice- and hold their flavor under higher cooking temperatures. A wonderful alternative to cooking (great in Thai dishes), this plant will bring a fresh new flare of basil into your garden and onto your plate! Transplant 4-8” apart.
Catnip: Nepeta cataria: Perennial- That will self-sow once it is established. Not only for the pleasure of cats, catnip is also used as potent medicinal for humans: promoting restful sleep, calming stomach disorders, and helping to relieve fevers when added to teas. It has also been sighted as a wonderful natural mosquito repellant, as well as rat repellant. A very useful addition to the garden; the flowers are also very attractive to bees. Catnip can grow to be 24-28” in height and should be transplanted 12-18” apart.
Chives: Allium schoenoprasum: Perennial: Monocot: A wonderful way to get your spring growing season underway, Chives will grows up to 12” wide and 12-18” tall. Prefers full sun, but tolerates partial shade. It makes a great companion plant because it repels insect pests, it also is a very gratifying plant to grow for the new gardener- seeking hardly any attention at all. The grass-like leaves will provide subtle onion flavor in cooking, and fresh dishes, the flowers can also be used for flavoring, and color in dishes. Chives can also be used as a remedy for colds and flu. Transplant 2-8” apart.
Cilantro: Santo: Coriandrum sativum: Annual: This is a very strong cilantro variety in both flavor and scent, and is also known for its slowness in bolting. All parts of the cilantro plant are edible, the fresh leaves and dried seeds are the most used traditionally. Delicious in Chutneys, salsas, salads and guacamole. Transplant 2-4” apart, likes full sun.
Dill: Bouquet: Anethum graveolens: Annual- A delicious plant with both edible seeds and greens. The flowers can also be harvested to be used as a garnish in salads, egg dishes, and pickling. Bouquet dill is a must-have for making your own pickles! During the Middle Ages Dill was used to defend against witchcraft and enchantments. Today it can be used effectively to help treat fever and colds. Transplant 2-4” apart in full sun.
Lavender, Elegance Purple
Lavender: Ellagance Purple: Lavandula angustifolia: Tender Perennial: Award winning European variety of Lavender, for its color and first year bloom time. Have the vibrant purple blooms from mid-summer to early fall!
Lavender essential oil is wonderful for stress relief, help with insomnia, anxiety, and pain relief. In folklore, pillows were filled with lavender flowers to help restless people fall asleep. Also, a wonderful culinary compliment to fish dishes, strawberry jams, and any thing you can imagine with a slight floral flavor.
Transplant 12-18” apart in full sun.
Lemon Balm: Melisaa officinialis: Perennial in the mint family, and will grow 18-26” tall. Enjoys full sun but also grows well in the shade. Lemon balm has been used medicinally for millennia. It can be used to treat the entire body but is especially useful for the digestive system. A wonderful stress reliever! Try brewing some lemon balm tea or adding a few leaves to freshen up a salad! Very gratifying to grow for the new gardener- very easy! Transplant 12” apart.
Mint, Common: Mentha spicata: Perennial- Common Mint is a wonderful tea mint – also great for a summer afternoon mojitos! Unless you are open to the idea of mint overtaking your garden – plant it within boundaries, pots, or in a separate plot. Mint is wonderfully easy to grow – and will spread wherever you let it. Mint can be used medicinally to calm the stomach, help with respiratory problems, reduce fever, help headaches, and relaxation. Transplant 12-18” apart in full sun or partial shade. Mint will grow 18 – 36”.
Oregano, Greek: Origanum heracleoticum: Perennial: Greek Oregano is known to be the most pungent and the best for culinary usage. The name ‘Oregano’ comes from the Greek words “oros” (mountain) and “ganos” (joy). Oregano didn’t become popular in the U.S until the soldiers began bringing it home with them from WWII as the “pizza herb”. It has been used in southern Italy, Greek and Mexican cuisine for centuries, and has now become a staple in American cooking. Oregano is a rich source of fiber and vitamins as well as having strong medicinal therapeutic properties. It will grow up to 18”tall, and should be transplanted 8-12” apart in rows 18-24” apart.
Parsley, Gigante d'Italia
Parsley, Gigante d’Italia: Petroselinum crispum: Biennial, Gigante d’ Italia is known specifically for its delicious culinary properties. Parsley prefers full sun to partial shade. Native to the southern European countries it became popular in the middle ages. It is know to attract desirable insects such as bees and butterflies. Harvest by taking the outer leaves and entire stems (to minimize disease pressures), leaving the younger inner leaves to re-grow. This flat leaved variety, from northern Italy can grow up to 1’ tall, and will impart delicious flavor into your salads, soups, and stocks. Transplant 8-12” apart.
Rosemary, Rosemarinus Officinalis: Tender Perennial: Happy in full sun and well drained soil, it can grow up to 3-4’ tall. It has great culinary flavor with pretty bluish white flowers.
Rosemary has both Antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. It has been traditionally used medicinally to relieve muscle pain, improve memory and support the circulatory and nervous systems. Transplant 12” apart.
Sage: Salvia officinalis: Perennial: Sage does best in full sun and well drained soil. Can grow to 2’ tall, and is native to the Mediterranean region. Since ancient times Sage has been used as a strong medicinal herb for a variety of ailments, including digestive and nerve tonics. It has also been traditionally used to “ward against evil”. A wonderful compliment to lamb and other meat dishes, this is a must have herb for the garden! Transplant 12” apart.
St. John's Wort
St John’s Wort: Topas: Hypericum perforatum: Perennial: St. John’s Wort is thought to have been named after ‘John the Baptist’, and has been used throughout time to ward off evil. Medicinally it has proved itself useful in the healing of wounds, sunburns, aches & pains. Its most well known attribute is that of helping to relieve the symptoms of depression. Due to its trailing nature, St John’s Wort can be used as a ground cover, or as a border to sidewalks, garden paths, rock walls, and driveways. It enjoys full sun- partial shade in a well-drained soil site. Plants should be transplanted 18-24” apart.
Thyme, Creeping: Thymus serpyllum: Perennial: Grown much more for its creeping ability then culinary usage, creeping thyme can be used as a wonderful ground cover for in the garden or on walkways, and along walls. It can withstand light foot traffic, and will also make the pleasant contribution of releasing its sweet aroma in the air when traveled upon. It is edible, but not as potent a variety as German Winter or Orange Thyme. Transplant 8-12” apart.
Thyme, German Winter
Thyme, German Winter: Thymus Vulgaris: Perennial- The classic culinary variety of thyme; thyme is a wonderful practical addition for your garden, kitchen, and medicine cabinet. Easy to grow, and hard to kill, it can be used in a variety of ways. Everything from flavoring sauces, meat rubs, salad dressings, and herb sachets, its’ uses in the culinary and medicinal worlds have been employed throughout cultures and ages for its effectiveness. Thyme has antiseptic qualities, and has been used for colds, camps, bronchial problems, intestinal problems, skin inflammation and sores, as well as an expectorant. Thyme will grow both up and out 12-18” and should be transplanted 8-12” apart.
Valerian: Valeriana officinalis: Perennial: This flower can grow wildly in Massachusetts, but is an important medicinal to add to your repertoire. Valerian has been recorded as being used medicinally since at least the time of the ancient Greeks. Unlike many of our other medicinal herbs, it is the root of Valerian that will prove itself most useful to you. Throughout the ages it has been used as a sedative and antidote to insomnia, soothe anxiety, relieve pain, lower blood pressure and prevent hemorrhage. The flower extracts were used as a perfume in the sixteenth century and will still attract butterflies to your garden today. Valerian can grow tall – as high as 20-40 inches and should be transplanted 18-36” apart.
Yarrow, White: Achillea millefolium: Hardy Perennial: Has beautiful, feathery gray-green foliage and lovely flower clusters with many tiny white flowers. Yarrow makes a beautiful and long-lasting cut flower as well as dried. It has been used traditionally to reduce inflammation, bring relief from anxiety and insomnia, and applied to the skin for wounds and minor bleeding. If brewed, the flowers and leaves make an effective remedy for cold and flu. It attracts bees, butterflies, and beneficials to the garden: faded flowers should be removed to encourage more growth. It can grow up to 1-2’ and should be transplanted 16” apart in full sun.