Guest column: Herbs are the ideal way to start gardening

Herbs are an ideal way for new gardeners to start
Herbs are an ideal way for new gardeners to start

One of the simplest starter ideas for anyone new to gardening is to create an herb garden.

They are perfect for novice planters and loved by cooks everywhere.

From sage to thyme, rosemary to clipped bay and flowering chives, you can combine a variety of herbs in one space that will produce long-lasting displays as well as regular pickings for the kitchen.

There are so many herbs to choose from, but the top five classic favourites are mint, chives, sage, bay and rosemary.

Mint is really easy to grow and it will cope with shady parts of the garden as well as full sun, but you need to keep it well watered and feed it

If you pick regularly it will grow bushy and give you leaves from April to November.

Chives are great in salads or as a soup garnish, they have lovely bee-friendly flower and do well in partial sun.

They like damp soil, so make sure they don’t dry out.

You can plant them from seed or pot a growing plant.

Sage thrives in dry conditions so avoid watering it too much.

Sage loses some of its flavour after about three years, but you can take cuttings and grow new, aromatic plants.

Bays are both practical and ornamental hardy evergreen trees with aromatic leaves and small yellow flowers in spring.

They can grow to up to 12 metres high but can be kept small by growing in a pot and pruning.

Keep them in a sheltered area in full or partial sun.

They have very shallow root systems so in dry conditions you will need to water them, but other than that they are low maintenance.

Rosemary is an evergreen, perennial hardy shrub with aromatic leaves and small purple or white flowers in late spring.

It thrives in good soil in full sun and needs minimal pruning or attention throughout the season.

You can leave rosemary in a container for several years before re-potting.

The Royal Horticultural Society has simple tips on how to plant herbs in a container should guarantee success and hassle free growing.

Choose containers that give herbs a deep root run where they can be left undisturbed.

Use a gritty, well-drained compost and keep the compost moist, but never soggy and use a balanced fertiliser to encourage leafy growth.

As many herbs have Mediterranean origins they like being in the sun, which means they really come into their own during the summer months – perfect timing for bringing an aromatic flavour to outdoor cooking or a zing to seasonal salads.

Sara Milne is consumer director and horticulture lead for Clareville PR