Are you an herb lover? If so, you’re not the only one. Many visitors to the beautiful wildlife garden love herbs just as much as people do. And although most people think of Basil, Thyme, Parsley or Sage when you ask them about herbs to grow, those are just a tiny portion of what’s really an herb in the garden. Herbs can be thought about in culinary, medicinal, spiritual, or botanical terms. Botanically, “herb” refers to any herbaceous plant, i.e. a plant that dies down to the ground each winter and does not have a woody stem. Most flowering annuals and perennials would be considered “herbs” in this context, but shrubs would not, even though they lose their leaves each year.
Medicinal herbs take many forms and although they’re not the subject of this post, are very interesting to learn about. Culinary herbs, such as parsley, sage, thyme, basil and oregano can be grown not just for humans, but for your wildlife visitors as well. While we as humans love to use these herbs in our cooking, butterflies depend on them to help them grow from one stage to the next. Bees and other pollinators love them for their pollen, and can be seen in great numbers on the flowers of thyme, oregano, and chives.
Most flowering herbs are very carefree and need little extra attention. Given too much fertilizer or water they lose their intense aromas and are more susceptible to diseases and pest problems. Left to their own devices they grow happily along side other flowers, shrubs and trees. Many common culinary and botanical herbs are easily grown from seed, either started indoors or sown outside. And there are so many to choose from!
By now most of you have received at least one seed catalog to drool over, so why not think about how you can add some herbs into your gardens this year? Culinary or otherwise, herbs have so many benefits to you and your wildlife friends.
Kathy Green is a Garden Coach and Designer who is patiently waiting to start her seeds for the blooms and herb she will be planting in her gardens in the mountains she calls home in Colorado.
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