THE gardens are greening up all over Spain as the milder temperatures and rain allow recovery after the relentless summer heat. It’s the perfect time to start planting out winter annuals, shrubs and trees.
A useful component to plant now in any garden or space you may have is a herb garden. Herb gardens add the delight of using fresh herbs in the kitchen and the home. They are not only useful in the kitchen, but also provide attractive flowers and wonderful scents on the balcony or terrace.
A fresh bunch of harvested herbs tied up can be used inside to hang on the wall or be placed in a vase and allowed to dry out to freshen a room. Pots can be alternated into and out of the house to add natural scent and display the flowers. Drying your own herbs allows you to make pot-pourris and tightly bound bunches for smudging.
Placement is important to successful growing. It is easier if herbs are accessible, but they need to have the right growing environment. Herbs like mint and chervil, do better in shade, while most others grow better in partial shade in the sunlight rich regions of Spain. Even lemongrass, lemon verbena and pineapple sage, which are more tropical than Mediterranean, do better with some shade.
Hardy herbs such as rosemary and lavender will tolerate full sun well all year but, if in pots, there is the risk of the soil mix drying out.
Choose a place with morning sun and afternoon shade. For pots in full sun on balconies and terraces, it is imperative to have respite from the heating effect of the sun on the soil through the pots, so you must have dependable irrigation on a daily basis for all but the largest pots.
It is a good idea to have double pots, with the outer decorative one taking the heat and allowing an air gap between it and the inner pot containing the plant. Window boxes or wall hanging containers of herbs are best located on the east side of the house or a place that has shade from the afternoon sun.
If you are lucky enough to be able to create a herb garden in your grounds, there is an enormous range of herbs to make interesting designs for formal gardens, herbal rock gardens, spiral gardens and informally blended cottage garden styles.
Interplanting herbs amongst ornamental and fruiting trees allows the ability to find ideal microclimates to suit the various herbs needs.