Herb gardens are an essential feature to any home garden. Usually placed in a sunny corner near the house where they are readily available to the busy cook as a major source for food seasoning. Although culinary herbs are the most useful, Engle’s covers the entire basis from aromatic, ornamental, to medicinal herbs.
Culinary herbs are probably the most useful to herb gardeners, having a wide range of uses in cooking. These herbs, because of their strong flavors, are generally used in small quantities to add flavor. Parsley, produced in the largest amount, is used mostly as a garnish. Next in popularity is sage -- an important flavoring in pork sausage. Other popular culinary herbs include chives, thyme, savory, marjoram, mint, and basil.
Aromatic herbs have some novel uses. Most have pleasant smelling flowers or foliage. Oils from aromatic herbs can be used to produce perfumes, toilet water, and various scents. For home use, the plant parts are used intact, often to scent linens or clothing. When dried, many aromatic herbs will retain their aroma for a considerable period. Some common aromatic herbs include mint, marjoram, lemon grass, rosemary, and basil.
Ornamental herbs have brightly colored flowers and foliage. Many have whitish or light-colored flowers. Such herbs as variegated thyme, mint, lavender, and chives produce variegated foliage.
Medicinal herbs have long been thought to have curative powers. But while present medical knowledge recognizes some herbs as having healing properties, others are highly overrated. Medicinal herbs should be used carefully. Some herbs are harmless while others can be dangerous if consumed.