Unusual herbs to grow in your garden
Iberian chives – Allium nutans
Siberian chives are similar to ordinary chives, but they have a buttery onion flavour and mauve flowers that can not only add flavour to a salad but can beautify it too. In your herb garden, they’ll provide months of colour, and the round purple flowerheads are a great way to attract both bees and butterflies, while the plant’s scented foliage deters pests.
Use the flat leaves of Siberian chives just like you would use ordinary chives. You can also slice the hollow stems and add them to soups, potato dishes, Mexican fare, and of course, salads – they’re especially gorgeous this way. Just some of the health benefits they offer including strengthening the immune system, supporting heart health, boosting bone strength and improving vision.
Sweet cicely – Myrrhis odorata
Sweet cicely is native to the British Isles and used to be grown in kitchen gardens near the door for easy access. It’s also famously used by Carthusian monks to make the liqueur, Chartreuse. In the plague years, people used it to prevent infection. All parts of the plant can be used – it’s been used for centuries for both culinary and medicinal purposes. Sweet cicely has a similar taste to aniseed, and it also helps to reduce the acidity of other ingredients in cooking. It’s ideal for adding to something like cooked apples, as it adds a touch of sweetness which means you won’t have to use as much sugar. You can cook the roots like you would parsnips and use them to flavour up soups and stews, and the leaves as a garnish or in salads.
This herb is especially good for the digestive system, when mixed into boiling water with a little finely chopped dinner, it creates the perfect concoction for relieving digestive issues like flatulence.
Chocolate mint – Mentha x piperita
Here’s the one you’ve been waiting for – did you know that a chocolate mint herb even existed? It really does, and it’s just as scrumptious as it sounds. It smells like a peppermint patty, though the aroma is more chocolatey than the taste. It makes a fabulously indulgent tea, and it can be baked in cakes, added to mojitos and used to relieve digestive woes, just like ordinary mint. Its aroma, though pleasant to humans, repels pests like mice, mosquitoes, fleas and flies.
Use the essence of chocolate mint to make your own infused oil that can be added to a favourite homemade body scrub, face mask or other beauty products for added chocolate indulgence.
French sorrel – Rumex scutatus
In the ancient world, sorrel was a very popular, well-liked culinary herb, and since sometime around the 14th century, it’s been extensively used in both the form of a salad plant and a vegetable. It’s less acid in flavour than common sorrel, with a distinct tang of apple and lemon, and has a high-level nutrition. French sorrel is particularly rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, as well as being a good source of vitamin A, which helps to strengthen the immune system and prevent premature ageing too.
French sorrel leaves are often used for their medicinal properties, including the ability to prevent or relieve diarrhoea and constipation, as well as to lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and hypertension. It can be eaten raw like spinach as part of a salad, added to sandwiches, or even pureed into a soup.