Starting a herb garden – with tips on making it fragrant, from Petersham Nurseries

Create your own aromatic herb garden and enjoy aromatic, ready-to-pick herbs all year round

Starting a herb garden
(Image credit: Unsplash/Matt Montgomery)

Now is the perfect time to think about starting a herb garden. With the sun starting to shine, and all of us still spending more time at home – and cooking more in our kitchens – it's a great use of time. And having our own herbs in to harvest from our gardens by summer will feel like a real treat. 

See: Small garden ideas – maximize a compact gardening space

Amanda Brame, responsible for Horticulture at Petersham Nurseries, has put together some hand tips and tricks for curating your own home herb garden, below.

Starting a herb garden at home

Try these tricks, shortcuts and expert tips to start a herb garden.

1. Invest in pre-potted, living herbs

starting a herb garden

(Image credit: Tom Leighton)

April is the best time of year to create the perfect herb garden, whether you want to use ready-grown plants, or start completely from scratch and sow a few seeds, now’s the perfect time to get going.

In the current situation you may not be able to find herb plants in your local garden center. If this is the case, you can, with a little extra care, use living supermarket grown herbs still in the pot. 

A word of warning though – they are not hardy, meaning they are only suitable for keeping indoors – so before you can plant them, you will need to keep them indoors for around three weeks, harvesting them very, very sparingly. 

After this period, harden them off outside for around five to seven days (place the plants outside during the daytime and bring them back in at night). This gets them acclimatized to the outdoors and ready to pop them into containers where they will romp away very quickly. 

You will need to follow this process again around late summer time to ensure a good succession, providing fresh herbs way into the fall.

2. Plant herbs for cooking

starting a herb garden

(Image credit: David Giles)

At Petersham Nurseries we have the luxury of a beautiful kitchen garden which we cram full of many different varieties of herbs ready for the chefs to add into their delicious creations.

Top of the chefs list are borage, sage, thyme, rosemary, and basil, not forgetting Moroccan mint. Out of these, borage is best grown from seed. It requires a little more room to grow than the others ,but the one we love the most. 

The pretty little blue flowers are edible and are sprinkled over pasta and pastry alike. Once established, the tips of the plant make for delicious borage fritti –crispy deep fried morsels.

3. Try these potting tricks

starting a herb garden

(Image credit: Petersham Nurseries)

Generally, herbs aren’t too fussy and will cope quite well in containers as long as they are around 40cm deep, have drainage holes and are filled with a soil-based compost. Failing that, a good organic water retaining compost is also suitable. 

Regular watering is really important and if you are able to site them out of the midday sunshine this will be much easier to manage and also encourage a strong steady growth. Also, give them a liquid feed every two to three weeks with an organic seaweed fertiliser and this will help speed up the growth for a regular supply.

Top tip – to get the look, take inspiration from the nurseries. Keep the containers simple by filling each one with a single herb type and grouping them together for that final stylish impact.

Petersham Nurseries,

Jennifer Ebert
Deputy Editor (Digital)

Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.