I have a long connection to Herbs going right back to childhood. They were clouds of fragrance and spice as I brushed passed them in the gardens of which ever National Trust property we were visiting, a fleeting glimpse of another way of life. They permeated many of the books I read, from, The Little Grey Rabbit series to Tom’s Midnight Garden.
More prosaically they were one of my favourite television programmes. I was lucky enough to grow up in the era of the late great Oliver Postgate, and The Herbs were memorable. They were a motley bunch from; a very friendly lion called Parsley, through to Dill the Dog, Bayleaf the Gardner, and Sage the Owl among others. They were enchanting, and herbs have been that for me ever since.
Herbs seem to create a slower way of life. They need to be picked, washed, chopped or shredded all the while releasing their wonderful aromas. The mere whiff of sage and onion and a whole roast dinner is conjured up.
There are over 14 different mints, of different strengths and flavours. I love mint, and have grown a range of them. It is probably my favourite herb. I could write a whole piece on just this versatile plant. It goes so well with new potatoes, but it can also compliment peas, lamb and chocolate. We use it in our Asian Slaw which is a lovely fresh garnish and pretty salad accompaniment. (Chef’s Tip, Moroccan Mint makes the best tea.)
Parsley is a vibrant, peppery herb full of calcium, iron and vitamin C. It can be used as a breath freshener. There are many varieties of this herb, but the most common are flat leaf or curly.
A firm favourite in white sauce over fish, but it can also be used in soups , stuffing, crusts and salads. We use it as part of our mushrooms in garlic.
“Are you going to Scarborough Fair? Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme,” Add a Bay Tree, some mint and a pot of Basil and you have a good range of herbs. Now we can buy “fresh” herbs of all sorts in all seasons. But a few pots of herbs on a sunny window sill, or in a plant holder in the garden, to cut and come again, will give you scent and flavour for minimum effort, all summer through.