The Herb Garden is my favourite place to sit and dream. As you can see, it’s not just herbs – there are a few wild flowers as well – the foxgloves just come and go as they please, setting seed in the most unlikely places – and there are poppies in every corner of my garden.
Herbs are so versatile – some have pretty flowers like thyme, borage and hyssop – all of course have definitive scents – lavender and lemon balm, sage and tarragon, fennel, basil and coriander.
They make delicious flavours for the simplest meals – tarragon chicken, rosemary lamb, garlic and parsley bread, chopped chives with potato salad, mint sauce, sage and onion stuffing.
I love experimenting with herbs – my latest success was potato wedges roasted in olive, sunflower and groundnut oil sprinkled with a mixture of herbs freshly picked and chopped. Traditional horseradish sauce made with freshly chopped horseradish root, salad cream, fresh cream, mustard powder and a hint of cayenne pepper is divine.
Mint sauce made with apple mint, vinegar, cabbage water and a spoonful of sugar makes even the blandest cabbage delicious. Cooked carrots fried in a little butter with chopped lovage leaves give a continental twist to any meal. Fresh basil livens up any pasta sauce – sprinkle curry with coriander leaves just before serving for a more authentic taste.
Herbs also have healing properties – you don’t need to buy expensive packets of herbal tea – you can make your own by simply pouring boiling water over leaves of your choice.
Hyssop tea is good for maintaining healthy blood pressure – whether it’s high or low it helps stabilise it. Peppermint tea helps digestion and soothes an upset tummy. Chamomile is calming, sage is stimulating, fennel is relaxing.
You can add the flowers and leaves of calendula, nasturtium and borage to salads to add colour as well as flavour. Borage flowers frozen into ice cubes made an attractive addition to summer drinks. Mint is an essential ingredient of any Pimm’s cocktail. Poppy seeds can be added to cakes and cookies – and sprinkled onto bread rolls.
Wherever I am, I will always have a few pots of soothing, fragrant, healing herbs on my windowsill.
Published in the July edition of the Whitchurch Gossip