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rosemary leaves
Have you begun your spring planting yet? Here in the northeast, spring planting is just beginning to enter my mind. The good news is that my snow cover is finally gone, the bad news is that it won't be warm enough to plant for at least another month.

What I have been thinking about is how I can bring the scents that I love in my soaps out to my yard. We began this process last spring and fall when we planted lavender along our walkway and mint along the stone wall, so that the fragrance wafts to our visitors as they proceed to our front door.

Read on to learn how to create a fragrant herb garden.

herbs(click thumbnails to view gallery)

rosemary leaveslavender flowersmint leavesbasil leaves

Plant herbs for fragrance, sure, but don't forget you can also use them for cooking, which is what we do. Last year, we had a giant terracotta pot of rosemary placed at the entrance to our walkway. It provided fragrance and make our lamb chops taste spectacular.

Even though my herb garden is a work in progress (and probably always will be), these are my favorite fragrant herbs that are must-haves for every herb garden:

  • Rosemary -- an evergreen, hardy to zone 9, so if you live above zone 9, bring your rosemary inside during the frosty months.
  • Sage -- another evergreen perennial with soft, light green foliage that does just fine as a perennial here in zone 6.
  • Lavender -- hardy, drought tolerant, will even grow in sandy soil. Perfect for the non-green thumb in me.
  • Mint -- perhaps the most useful weed you will ever grow as long as you live below zone 5. I'd still try it, because this baby is tenacious.
  • Basil -- the only annual herb I recommend, for its easy of growing, its many culinary uses and of course its fragrance.

My favorite thing about planting an herb garden with these herbs is that they all blend well together as essential oils, so the garden fragrance will blend well too.

While this garden is a synergy of scents, it is also a beautiful contrast in textures. The needle-like leaves of the rosemary, the slightly fuzzy light green sage, the spiky lavender, the deep green largish basil leaves and the low-growing mint.: lovely. You'll want to cluster the herbs together so they provide visual punch. No rows!

Mint makes a good border, as there are many low creeping varieties. Clusters of sage, rosemary, and lavender work well behind the mint. Lastly, fill in any holes with clusters of basil, toward the back because basil can get pretty tall, and you are done.

The bonus? When they grow, you can use them all summer long in cooking (pesto anyone?) and later in a myriad of ways.

I'll give you some time to plant and let your new herbs grow. Look for a future post on harvesting, drying and infusing your home grown, fragrant herbs, and creating things like sachets, bath teas and the like.


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