So you have discovered the wonders of herbs. You have learned that mankind has used herbs in food ever since people have cooked food. Up until the current period of time when modern stores began providing our food herbs were an integral part of any home garden. The practice of growing herbs at home went away with the arrival of convenient food stores but today there is a resurgence of interest in the home herb garden.
Many people are rediscovering the joy and excitement of growing their own herbs. Joining the home herb garden revival will require a little homework on the part of the uninitiated. There are 73 recognized types of herbs spread across four herb use classifications. Some of the different types of herbs have uses in more than one classification so there is a lot to choose from when starting a herb garden project.
The four main use classifications of herbs are: medicinal, aromatic, ornamental and culinary. This offers the herb gardener many different areas of interest to pursue. Here is a brief review of each herb classification:
Medicinal herbs were heavily relied upon as the primary method of treatment for sickness, injury and other common maladies before the advent of modern medicine. Many of the herbs do have healing qualities however great care should be exercised when using them. Examples of medicinal herbs include; Ginseng, Ephedra, Catnip, Dandelion, and St. John’s Wort.
This wonderful type of herb has very agreeable smelling foliage and flowers. Other types of herbs are more popular and well known but aromatic herbs are an exciting and rewarding garden project. The pleasant fragrances of these herbs come from their oils which have been used forever to make perfumes, toilet water and other pleasant smelling devices. When dried the plant can retain it’s fragrant aroma for months. In the dried state they are excellent linen and clothing fresheners. Examples of aromatic herbs include; basil, marjoram, lovage, mint and rosemary.
The star of the herb show is by far culinary herbs. Throughout recorded history there are indications that herbs have improved the taste of food for mankind. This puts the culinary herb gardener in a time honored pursuit of helping foods taste better. Culinary herbs are the most useful to the gardener because they can be put to immediate use in the kitchen. They pack a powerful punch of flavor so a large garden is not necessary to provide ample supplies for any kitchen. Just naming culinary herbs will make a mouth water. Some of the most popular are sage (think pork sausage), chives, thyme, basil, mint, rosemary and savory.
Herb plants aren’t generally thought of as being an important factor in landscaping but their brightly colored foliage and flowers can add beauty to any landscaping project. Ornamental herb plants combined with other herb plants can create a spectacular herb garden or they can contribute an exotic touch to an overall landscape plan. Naming just a few of the herb plants that can be used in landscaping would include valerian with it’s deep red blossoms, the variegated foliage of chives and of course the beautiful lavender.
With an understanding of the four use classifications of herbs the fledgling herb gardener need only choose the type herbs that will fit into their primary use classification of interest and begin to enjoy the age old joy of growing herbs.
SONNY CHENOWETH is an herb expert. For more information on an italian herb garden [http://www.herbgardenreport.com/italian-herb-garden/], visit [http://www.herbgardenreport.com]
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