WE all love fresh herbs in our food, whether it be mint with our lamb and mojitos, basil in our insalate tricolore or dill with our smoked salmon.
Growing herbs in pots or containers is becoming very popular, as there is nothing quite as satisfying as popping onto your terrace to snip a few fronds of chives for your summer supper.
However, herbs are not just perfect for culinary uses and alternative medicine, many of them bear subtly beautiful flowers that lend a loose, unstudied air to gardens, terraces and flower arrangements.
With flavourful leaves and gorgeous flowers, these plants provide a feast for the eyes.
Here are nine of the best herbs to grow this summer, that will add colour and texture to your garden spaces and be as beautiful to look at as they are to eat:
Thai Basil (Ocimum Basilicum var. thyrsiflora)
This exotic variety, with a strong licorice scent, boasts reddish-purple flower spikes in late summer. Note: The leaves may start to lose some flavour once blooming begins.
Dill (Anethum Graveolens)
By midsummer, vivid chartreuse-yellow blossoms appear atop tall stems with feathery foliage. To ensure a steady supply, sow new seeds each month.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus Officinalis)
Grow this drought-tolerant shrub, which blooms in early summer, as an annual in cooler regions. For best results, start with a plant, not seeds.
Greek Oregano(Origanum Vulgare subsp. hirtum)
With a low mounding habit, this fuzzy-leaved herb makes for a good-looking ground cover. Expect clusters of pale, pinkish buds midsummer.
Spearmint (Mentha Spicata)
This refreshing member of the mint family flaunts cones of lilac-pink bells by midsummer. Since mint’s invasive, be sure to contain it in a pot or raised bed
Pineapple Sage(Salvia Elegans)
True to its name, this tender perennial emits a sweet pineapple fragrance and, as summer begins to wane, sends up stalks of vibrant scarlet blooms.
Catmint (Nepeta X Faassenii )
With its smallish gray-green leaves, arching habit, and lavender-blue flowers in summer,catmint has few medicinal or culinary attributes, but it does make a lovely cut flower.
It is often irresistible to cats, so you may find a euphoric feline friend lying in the center of your plants from time to time.
‘Tutti Frutti’ Anise Hyssop (Agastache ‘Tutti Frutti’)
Another herb that attracts a great deal of attention in the border is ‘TuttiFrutti’ anise hyssop. Its stunning raspberry-red flower spikes reach up to a foot long and offer appealing color in late summer.
Its individual flowers are delicious, with a taste like sweet anise, and are fantastic when added to salad.
Garlic Chives (Allium Tuberosum)
A superb companion for ‘TuttiFrutti’ is the gorgeous perennial herb garlic chives.
It’s hard to miss this plant in late summer when its lovely starry-white flowers are in full bloom.
The seed heads are great for decorative use indoors, while the flat, garlic-flavored leaves can be harvested throughout the growing season to add to soups, sauces, and dips.