I love gardens that are billowing with flowers and foliage, creating a wonderful tapestry of colour, form and texture. However, I also like all this abundance to be contained within quite rigid boundaries so that the garden retains a sense of balance and proportion and importantly works towards creating winter structure.
This can be commonly seen with herbs, that are contained within possibly quite intricate frames of box hedging or other low shrubs – lavender for example creates a lovely low hedge – and the herb plants are all allowed to do their own thing within the box boundary. Other low hedges include hyssop, winter savory, cotton lavender and Artemisia sp. Alchemilla mollis – Ladies mantle creates a lovely frothy edging in most situations.
Designing a herb garden in this way can be wonderfully creative, choosing shapes for the boundaries, and plants to form those boundaries. Box and Lavender have already been mentioned, but other low shrubs or even perennials can be used to create that initial framework. The herbs themselves can be chosen for culinary, medicinal, or just aesthetic value but group plants together that enjoy the same conditions.
Mediterranean herbs, rosemary, thyme sages and oregano etc. all enjoy warmer drier conditions whereas parsley, mint, chives and chervil etc. are happier in cooler conditions where they will produce lots of leafy growth.