The over-50, senior brain can only absorb so much information before it overloads. Mine is as saturated as the ground outside! I have read/skimmed four books about herbs cover to cover and spent hours on the internet searching seed companies, recipes and other info. Decisions about which herbs to grow have been made and 29 packets of potential plants are on the way. I decided to buy seeds instead of plants for all my choices because it's the best value. Plus, I can share (and sell on craigslist?) those seedlings I don't use.
The plan for an herb garden soon became a plan for several herb gardens. Although herbs can have overlapping culinary, medicinal and/or household uses, separate gardens based on usage serves to keep me organized and focused. Culinary herbs will find their home on the sunny south side next to the rosemary bush, pictured above left. The small-growing varieties will go in "window" boxes attached to the rails of the handicap ramp and the larger plants will be placed in containers between the ramp and the house. This ramp is my path between garage and kitchen, so hopefully I will be inspired daily to cook with basil, dill, cilantro, parsley, sage, chives, tarragon, fennel, sorrell, majoram, savory and cumin.
A medicinal herb garden will be planted in a wheel design around the decorative pond. I use the word pond loosely, as it is just a plastic bucket buried in the hard NC clay. Come to think of it, I have to use the word decorative loosely too, because this area is a work in progress (i.e., euphemism for eyesore!). Here will go angelica, burdock, feverfew and yarrow.
Many herbs are annuals, so if all goes well with saving this year's seeds, the only ones I will need to buy next year will be for expanding the gardens. Perennials like thyme, pictured left, oregano, mint, lavender and St Johnswort are already established in various places around the yard. Additionally, a fair number of herbs -- especially those that attract bees, hummingbirds and butterflies -- line the walkway to the front door, pictured below right: bee balm, hyssop, Joe Pye weed, purple coneflower and Lamb's ears. This is where I will plant bergamot.
Some notes: Comfrey was the most expensive herb at $0.60 per seed! It is described as "hard to germinate" so the game is on. Stevia, the sugar substitute, holds the greatest promise for being my favorite new herb. I accidentally ordered catnip instead of chamomile -- there must be a reason, but it's not because I want to attract cats. Quite the contrary. The neighbor's cats camp out below my bird feeders and scare my feathered friends away. Lovage ... even the name sounds nice; use it like celery. I learned Marsh Mallow is a medicinal herb for multiple ailments in addition to an ingredient in the confection which bears its name. Pennyroyal should help the Purple Martins keep the mosquitoes under control.