Inspiring Herbs that shine whatever the weather.

I never cease to be inspired by the fortitude of plants as they always seem to shine despite what the weather throws at them. Here are a few that are currently lifting my spirits even on the glummest days.

Santolina, Cotton Lavender. This herb is a native of Southern France and the Northern Mediterranean area. It was used medicinally for many centuries and historically, during the Medieval period, it was used both as an insect and moth repellent and as a wormer. There are many forms, my favourites are:

Santolina chamaecyparissus ‘Lambrook Silver’

Santolina pinnata subsp. neapolitana ‘Edward Bowles’

This herb needs to be cut back hard after flowering to prevent the plant becoming woody or splitting . Unlike its common name sake Lavender, this herb will shoot from old wood, which makes it ideal for growing as an edging plant or as a hedge.

Perilla frutescens var purpurascens Purple Shiso has, unlike its cousin Basil, thrived this year. The purple variety has come into its own in the garden as its deep colour makes the constrasting green leafed herbs seem more vibrant.

Another herb which has truley been spectacular throughout these dank days is Artemisia ludoviciana ‘Silver Queen’.

I took this photograph at The Organic Garden on a particularly showery day, yet it still shone at the front of the border; it’s attractive silver foliage reflecting the light of the day.

These plants are currently available on the farm and if you also wish to be inspired please join us at our next Open days on Friday 20th, Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd. You will be able to browse our whole collection and, for those of you with exotic taste, I will be giving two free talks a day on ‘Oriental Herbs.’ Please visit the Open day link for more information and I look forward to seeing you next weekend, whatever the weather!!!

2012 Happy New Year from Jekka’s Herb Farm

Happy New Year to you all.

A new season has started, the days are getting longer and the seeds are  beginning to germinate. This is the ideal time to start  sowing some varieties of  seed under protection so that  you can get a head start on the year.

The seeds which benefit from an early start include many of the annual herbs which will mean that you can have them flowering as early as possible. Calendula, Borage, Nasturtiums are the prime ones and also the salad herbs such as  Wild Rocket, Parsley and especially Purple Shiso. Not only does the Shiso look great in the garden, it, like the other two salad herbs mentioned, is ideal  to whet the appetite after the glut of  winter root vegetables.

There are two watch points at this time of year, first is watering. Be very careful  not to over water, but also do not stress the young plants by letting them dry out. Check the weight of the container before watering as the surface of the compost can look dry when the root ball is actually wet .

The second major watch point is ventilation. Open up the poly tunnel, glasshouse or window, when ever possible and certainly if the temperature rises to double figures in the day.  Only cover tender young or newly potted plants with horticultural fleece when the night temperature drops below 5C.

Just recently I have been enchanted each morning  by the most delightful Song Thrush, it has the most uplifting song.  I checked, via the RSPB, that my identification was correct and discovered with great sadness that this

 wonderful bird is on the red endangered list.

So please could you add to your new years resolution to be to be more sustainable and organic in the garden, for  the Thrush is a good friend to the gardener eating snails.  Then our grandchildren , in years to come, will also be able to be enchanted by the Song Thrush.

© Jekka McVicar , Jekka’s Herb Farm,  January 2012.