Culinary Herbs A-M

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Artemesia dracunculus
 
Tarragon, a herb traditionally used to flavour chicken,fish and egg dishes, has a gentle aniseed flavour. It can grow up to 1.5m in a sunny border and will produce small yellow flowers in summer given the right amunt of sun. Russian Tarragon (dracunculus) is the easiest to grow in our climate and can be found growing wild all over the Northern Hemisphere.
 
In past times Tarragon was known as Dragons Wort as it was believed it could cure snake bite due to the root looking dragon-like in appearance.
 
It is an excellent companion plant as it is disliked by many garden pests, as are most of the Artemisia family, and hence keeps them at bay.
 
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Bay Tree-Laurus nobilis 
 
 Bay leaves are commonly used in cooking, both as fresh and dried leaves, to flavour soups and stews.
 
As part of the Laurel family the Bay Tree can grow up to 10m in height  and is an extraordinarily useful garden plant. It can be used as hedging, specimen trees and as topiary in a formal setting, and is successful both in the ground or as a container plant so long as it is kept well watered in the summer.
 
 
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Foeniculum vulgare
 
Fennel, as a herb, is used mainly in fish dishes. However, the seed is used as a spice in much Asian cuisine.
 
In cultivation, fennel is a perennial herb which will easily self seed and produce a good crop each year. It grows to 1m in height and has umbels of yellow flowers which should be removed if you do not wish them to self sow. However, if left on the plant to dry, it is an easy source of fennel seed, which can easily be dried on a window sill and then stored for use. For fish dishes it is the fronds of leaf that are used prior to flowering.
 
Traditionally fennel has had medicinal uses as well as culinary, as a diuretic and for digestive problems.
   

As a border plant in the garden it works beautifully, particularly if paired with the bronze variety of it as well.                                 

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Foeniculum vulgare Florence
 
This cultivar of fennel is grown predominantly for the bulbs it produces which can be eaten raw in salads as well as a cooked vegetable. It is the fennel that was used in absinthe  in Europe which was produced first as a medicine in Switzerland but quickly became a popular alcoholic drink until it was banned!
 
Florence fennel is also a lovely garden plant as it has a fresh green appearance and remains looking good throughout the growing season.
 
 
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Foeniculum vulgare Purpureum
 
Bronze fennel is a delightful variety of herb fennel giving garden borders added depth and texture thanks to the stunning red-bronze colours of the foliage.  The feathery foliage, seeds or bulb can be included in salads  or flavouring fish and pork dishes. 
 
 
 
 
 

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Hyssopus officinalis 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Hyssopus officinalis Roseus
 
Pink Hyssop can be used a small amounts with fatty/ oily fish and meat dishes.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Mentha suaveolens variegata
 
Pineapple Mint is a cultivar of applemint.  Now widely used in the infamous Mojito cocktails to offer a twist of flavour other than just mint and in fact pairs up very well with any rum based drink.
 
 
 
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Mentha × gracilis
 
Gingermint is a hybrid between field mint and spearmint. Can be used as a useful addition to summer salads and fruit dishes or even homemade gingermint tea.
 
 
 
 
 
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Monarda didyma Red
Monarda, bergamot or beebalm is a North American herb which is now used mainly in cultivation as a garden/border perennial. It has a long history of uses, from being made into tea by native Americans to uses as pot pourri and as an antiseptic.
 
There are now many cultivars which are coloured from white through to scarlet and purple. It is particularly useful as a wildlife friendly plant as it is loved by bees, bence its name of beebalm.
 
 
 
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