I envision a combination of beauty and function with regard to my principal flower garden this year as I intend to tuck herbs here and there into corners and bare spots transforming the existing garden into an old fashioned cottage garden. The herbs will add to the floral fragrance wafting through the night air while they add beauty and grace through their own leaves and flowers, and, I ask you, who could not love stepping into the flower garden for a few pot-herbs to flavor the evening’s dinner?
While I have seen it quite clearly in my head through the dreary winter months, I am, after all, Thehistoricfoodie, so is there any historical basis for this co-mingling of flowers and herbs? Yes! I’m delighted with my plan and that it mirrors the author’s description in the article below just adds to my gardening giddiness!
I already have seed orders in for most of the flowers and herbs discussed below and intend to transplant some existing herbs. Having found this article shortly after my second seed order went to Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, I see I was remiss in not ordering hyssop.
My seed stash already contains lovage and sorrel, which, due to their size will grace the outer edges of the garden and purslane that will go into its own bed as it self-sows so readily. Lacinto kale will add color and form to the garden and its leaves will certainly find their way into the soup pot. Nasturtium is the epitome of beauty and function as its leaves and flowers are beautiful garnishes or salad ingredients and the buds can be pickled like capers.
The plants already at home in the garden include heirloom fragrant roses, daffodils, iris, daylilies, Echinacea, rudbeckia, phlox, verbena, blackberry lily, spider lily, rosemary, hollyhock, Sweet William, snapdragons, hyacinths, etc. I love the following article because it so beautifully described what I have envisioned my garden will look like after I mix the herbs in with the flowers.
“The Old Pot-Herbs in the Flower Garden. Some of these pot-herbs are beautiful things, deserving a place in any flower garden. Sage, for instance, a half shrubby plant with handsome gray leaf and whorled spikes of purple flowers, is a good plant both for winter and summer, for the leaves are persistent and the plant well clothed throughout the year. Hyssop is another such handsome thing, of the same family, with a quantity of purple bloom in the autumn, when it is a great favourite with the butterflies and bumble bees. This is one of the plants that were used for an edging in gardens in Tudor days, as we read in Parkinson’s ‘Paradisus,’ where Lavender Cotton, Marjoram, Savoury, and Thyme are also named as among the plants used for the same purpose. Rue, with its neat bluish green foliage, is also a capital plant for the garden where this colour of leafage is desired. Fennel, with its finely-divided leaves and handsome yellow flower, is a good border flower, though rarely so used, and blooms in the late autumn. Lavender and rosemary are both so familiar as flower garden plants that we forget that they can also be used as neat edgings if from the time they are young plants they are kept clipped. Borage has a handsome blue flower, as good as its relation the larger Anchuss [?]. Tansy, best known in the gardens by the handsome Achilles Eupatorium, was an old inmate of the herb garden. Sweet Cicely (Myrrhis odorata) has beautiful foliage, pale green and Fern-like with a good umbel of white bloom, and is a most desirable plant to group with and among early-blooming flowers. And we all know what a good garden flower is the common pot Marigold. From Elgood’s ‘Some English Gardens’.” – The Garden. Jan. 7, 1905.