Herbs You Can Grow in the 'Burbs

Herbs are the secret ingredients to grandma’s favorite recipe, the something special for summer beverages and an easy way to transform baked goods from pedestrian to gourmet. Adding herbs in food preparation, as well as accents for cut-flower arrangements and uses in homemade items such as bath salts, is essential, but it can be expensive. Now I know the majority of my friends live in apartments or condos, so having a lavish garden isn't really in the cards right now. But absolutely anyone can grow herbs, I promise! Even if you live in the tiniest apartment, potted herbs thrive in windowsills and balconies! 

Perennial herbs especially are a modest investment and provide years of benefits unlike their annual counterparts. With a little TLC and basic maintenance, perennial herbs can lend their culinary and aesthetic uses throughout the year. These are my top 4 herbs you can grow anywhere. 

Never Enough Thyme

Often, there seems to be nothing but thyme: Lemon, orange, lime, English, French, creeping and woolly are but a few varieties of this small, woody-stemmed, oval-leaved herb. Thyme in the garden is a refreshing deep-green accent throughout the year. It can serve as a border and excels in pots. Used generously in recipes from eggs to scones to pork to summer spritzers, thyme is a star in the kitchen. As a bonus, it dries well, too, and will last for several weeks on the kitchen counter in a small vase of water for fresh use or to liven up the room when combined with other herbs or garden flowers for a small, unique bouquet. 

The Romance of Rosemary

Rosemary is known as a faithful garden companion - green year-round, sometimes growing gigantic if left to its own devices. The varieties of rosemary are versa tiles as the herb itself. It can be used as a focal point, growing up to 7 feet tall, as a pruned edge to a garden path. Rosemary of all sizes and shapes is useful at luring beneficial insects with its typically bright blue flowers, and as a culinary herb that can be chopped and thrown in with roasted or sautéed vegetables, or used as a whole sprig with lamb or pork. Rosemary is said to represent remembrance and fidelity, and was often used in small, hand-sized bouquets known as “nosegays”, worn or held by women and men during the Victorian Era. 

Sweet Marjoram

Marjoram is an often-overlooked hero of the perennial herb garden. This densely packed, dark-green plant is tenacious in the garden, clumping into a perfect mound, producing lovely bee-friendly, pinky-violent blooms. Sweet marjoram is cousin to oregano and used similarly, though the two are often confused. Marjoram has a sweeter milder taste and texture, while oregano is more robust and has a peppery flavor. Since it is a milder scent when dried, sweet marjoram is a ready addition to potpourri, sachets and bath salts as a gift from the garden.

Lovely Lavender

Last, but certainly not least is lavender. In the urban garden, lavender is a standout and a standby. When all else fails, plant lavender. With regular pruning, lavender can be made to behave, is a beneficial insect must-have and smells heavenly all year long. Lavender is also finding its way into the kitchen in an upward trend as well. Lemon and lavender is an unequaled match in scones, shortbread and coffee cakes, while lavender paired with pepper and beef takes a farmhouse staple to a whole new level. I might be a little biased, but lavender is in my top 5 favorite things in the entire world. 

Fresh or dried, from your garden or your windowsill, perennial herbs are a boon to any household. Taking the time to investigate, invest and benefit from the bound of these simple plans can brighten the kitchen and gardens no matter what your living situation.

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