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10 ESSENTIAL HERBS TO GROW THIS SUMMER
White Flower Farm Names their Top Picks
Do you need basil for your spaghetti sauce? Forget about store-bought herbs, and turn to your own garden. The compact basil 'Pistou' from White Flower Farm (www.whiteflowerfarm.com) grows flavorful smaller leaves, which are perfect for most recipes. It should be planted in late spring, and will produce all season long.
Herbs from White Flower Farm are great for cooking, home decor, and gifts and can even be used to make your own scents (a French lavender called 'Grosso' is very popular). Herbs can be planted in a garden, or they are available in prepackaged arrangements like "Herbs on the Windowsill," or "Kitchen Herbs and Pocket Pot" (six different herb varieties).
White Flower Farm has compiled a list of their most requested herbs (photos available upon request):
(1) Lavender 'Grosso' -- This is one of the most fragrant of lavenders and is widely grown in France for perfumes and aromatherapy oils. With its long spikes of deep violet blooms, this productive variety is idea for dried lavender bundles. It's also a great culinary herb (perfect for meat dishes).
(2) Basil 'Pistou' -- A compact basil with small leaves, 'Pistou' can be trimmed into a neat, annual hedge for a formal setting or used to frame an herb or vegetable garden. A more uniform habit keeps plants looking dense and tidy in containers. It is also suitable for just about any recipe.
(3) Fine Chives -- A fancy European strain, fine chives grows into the same 1-ft-tall clumps as regular chives, but their leaves are more refined and tender. They tend to regrow faster after cutting, and develop woody stems more slowly. The leaves may be added to salads or snip them into pieces at the last minute over a bowl of soup, scrambled eggs, or mashed potatoes. There are many other culinary uses for this savory herb with lavender-pink flowers.
(4) Rosemary -- Besides its fine flavor in stews, sauces and so much more, rosemary is also an attractive houseplant that produces delicate gray-green foliage and pale, baby-blue flowers. Where it is not hardy, rosemary can spend the summers outside and then be moved indoors to a sunny window in the coldest room in the house for the winter.
(5) Greek Oregano - The most recommended variety for kitchen use, Greek oregano is a staple in the herb garden. These low-growing, white-flowered plants make a 12-inch spreading mound. Once established, they are carefree in a well-drained sunny spot. The popularity of oregano in Greek, Italian and Mexican dishes is well established. It's also easy to dry for year-round use.
(6) Flat-Leaf Parsley -- Rich in both flavor and vitamins, Italian Flat-leaf Parsley has dark green leaves that lend a sweet taste to recipes. Italian parsley stores well in the refrigerator and is also great for drying.
(7) Lemon Grass -- This easy-to-grow plant is a favorite of American gardeners. It's best known for providing lemon flavoring to Asian cuisine. A versatile herb, slices of fresh stalks are added to salads, soups, stews, stir fries, and seafood dishes. Leaves can also be dried to make teas. It's especially nice to plant along paths and walkways where they release their fragrance when brushed by people walking by. Only hardy in zones 10-11, so grow as an annual elsewhere or bring inside for the winter.
(8) Peppermint -- Historically used to treat stomach ailments, peppermint has been found in gardens around the world for ages. The toothed, aromatic leaves grow on dark stems (12-36 inches), and bear lilac-pink flowers in July-August. Use fresh leaves to flavor summer drinks, and steep dried leaves for homemade teas. Peppermint spreads by underground stems so choose a site -- or a large container -- with this in mind.
(9) French Thyme -- This plant forms a pretty, low-growing 12-inch shrub whose cascading stems of tiny gray-green leaves are a focus in any herb garden; the herb is also indispensable in the kitchen. It's essential in bouquets garnis and pâté, and popular in Greek, Cajun and Creole dishes.
(10) Lemon Balm -- Bushy lemon Balm has fine, heart-shaped leaves with scalloped edges and a sweet citrus scent. Clusters of tiny, white flower appear in late summer. It's a perfect tea herb to grow for natural lemon-scented ice tea. Little sprigs also make edible garnishes for fruit drinks and sherbets. It blends well with other herbs, adds a mild citrus tang to salads, and is a good alternative to mint.
Barb Pierson, the nursery manager at White Flower Farm, is available for interviews upon request, as are other experts. Please contact: Deborah Broide,
Deborah Broide Publicity,
White Flower Farm is a family-owned nursery located in northwest Connecticut. Since 1950, they have been gathering, evaluating, growing, and selling a wide range of annuals, perennials, shrubs, vines, bulbs, and houseplants representing the very best varieties from around the world. Plants shipped are true to name, free of disease, and in prime condition for growing. While in the area, stop by White Flower Farm with its five acres of display gardens, or visit www.whiteflowerfarm.com, where you will also find helpful gardening information including how-to videos. Join our E-mail list for gardening advice and tips, From the Farm monthly newsletter, announcement of events at the White Flower Farm Store, and special offers not in our catalogues or on our Web site.
White Flower Farm -- we make your garden grow.