Asparagus is a time-tested vegetable favorite. High in vitamin C and K, asparagus can be baked, boiled, grilled, or sauteéd and still retain its intense flavor. While asparagus takes some patience on the part of the gardener, its long start-up period is worth the wait. In fact, this resilient vegetable can grow for 30 to 50 years after it’s established.
Basil is so popular it probably needs no introduction. It’s the key ingredient in pesto. It’s good fresh, frozen, or dried. It pairs equally well with tomatoes or strawberries. It amps up the flavor of salad, pizza, pasta, you name it. Plus, basil smells so good sometimes it’s worth just sticking it in a vase of water and letting it fill a room.
A relative of onion, chives are known for their beautiful flowers and landscaping potential, their mild, onion-esque flavor, and their ability to repel pests. Whether you use your chives in butter, olive oil, or any sauce, know they’re as low-maintenance as they are delicious and versatile.
Lavender is beloved by gardeners, pollinators, bakers, and soap makers alike—its appeal extends from the kitchen to the bedroom and washroom in the form of potpourri, soaps, and lotions. This fragrant and surprisingly delicious herb is beautiful and useful (hello pollinators!) in any landscaping scene regardless of whether it’s used heavily in the kitchen.
Lemon balm, a calming herb, is a member of the mint family and shares a few of its characteristics, namely, a slightly minty aroma, similarly shaped leaves, and a propensity for rapid growth. With its lovely scent and flavor, lemon balm (also known as sweet balm or Melissa), can season dishes, flavor salads and tea, even freshen up a room in a vase of flowers. Another reason to love this perennial? It repels flies and mosquitoes.
While fennel can be a finicky herb the pay-off is its subtle licorice flavor.
This bulb-based herb is winter-hardy and easy to grow.
With a timeless fragrance and flavor, mint is a versatile staple for kitchen and garden alike. It flavors salads, refreshes a drink, and can even serve as a home remedy for various ailments. Mint can be a boon for the garden, too. Full of pollen and nectar, mint attracts beneficial bugs like honey bees and hoverflies, while deterring not-so-helpful pests like ants, flies, mosquitoes, rats, and mice. In short, mint is a win-win addition to your garden.
Oregano, which plays a much loved role in any number of Mediterranean and Italian dishes, tastes wonderful whether fresh or dried. It’s a low-maintenance, high-return plant that grows vigorously without much water or care. The herb pairs well with tomatoes both in the garden and in dishes. It’s an excellent staple for spice cabinet and garden.
This mild-mannered, mild-flavored herb serves as a crisp garnish, a flavor accent, and it’s nutritious too. As a biennial plant, parsley is a bit more complicated to harvest than most perennials.
Rosemary is classically fragrant and deliciously pungent. It nicely flavors olive oil, butter, meats, vegetables, and even fruit. It’s also resilient, which means it’s a common landscaping staple in drought-resistant yards. Another plus: if you grow beans, rosemary can help protect against bean pests.
Sage has large, soft, resinous leaves with a deep aroma. A little goes a long way when seasoning dishes and its pine-like flavor tastes great in a stuffing or soup.
This low-maintenance plant needs very little water or attention but delivers huge returns as a garden pollinator and seasoning. Dried or fresh, it adds a subtle finishing flavor to a wide variety of dishes. Vegetables, soups, meats, stews, sauces - you name it, thyme can often enhance it.