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Herbs for Summer

Al fresco herbs for summer

 However, now the evenings are pleasantly light and after a long day at work, why not spend time outside with a sprinkling of friends and the offerings of a well planned garden?

Eating outside in the garden during the summer is one of the benefits of having your own external space and you may be thinking about the ever popular barbecue to entertain your guests.

Whatever your culinary tastes, you can hardly do better than an accompaniment of fresh herbs, hand picked and full of instant flavour. If you’re cooking meat like lamb, the first choice has to be rosemary. It can either be added as a sprig or finely chopped. Very easy to grow if given a sunny place with good drainage and there are many varieties available from the blue R. officinalis to the upright form, ‘Miss Jessop’s Upright’, ideal where space is limited.

For salads, try the classic favourites, Petroselinum crispum (parsley) or Allium schoenoprasum (chives). Both will tolerate partial shade for the smaller courtyard garden and have the added bonus of possessing contrasting foliage. Although much more tender than other common herbs, basil, Ocimum basilicum can be planted out after the threat of frosts has passed and makes an ideal companion to tomato-flavoured dishes and pasta sauces. Pinch out the tips to keep plants bushy.

There are some herbs of course that positively should only be grown in a pot unless you have a lot of space to surrender. Mint is notable for its invasiveness but can be used in salads (Mentha x piperita – peppermint) or mint sauce (Mentha spicata – spearmint).

Herbs don’t all have to be small either. The evergreen bay laurel, Laurus nobilis is capable of growing into a small tree if left unpruned and its leaves are commonly added to sauces, soups and desserts.

You can’t beat the taste of home-grown herbs and with so many to choose from, there’s a herb to suit every culinary palate.