New Herb Gardening

Creating a garden for herbal plants

There is a world of choice if you’re creating a herb garden. As well as designing a beautiful garden, you can also make it a practical one. Even more exciting than selecting garden furniture and landscaping, is your choice of plants. Chamomile, hyssop, lemon balm … Today we rediscover the medicinal plants and their benefits. It is very easy to create a garden of the simple and to cultivate these good grasses: with a little organization and a minimum of knowledge, renew with the practices of gardening developed in the medieval monasteries!

The simple: who are these plants?

The plants used since antiquity are called “simple” for their medicinal properties , the simplicis herba. They were called simple as opposed to the complex potions proposed by learned medicine of the time.

A simple garden does not only include medicinal plants . They are associated with aromatic plants and condiments , most of which also have therapeutic virtues .

Garden of simple romantic inspiration
The first herbs to enter the medieval simple gardens are the spontaneous local species, then come the “acclimated”.

The garden of the simple, a garden of monastery

Herbs have been fascinating and caring for more than 1500 years. Their long history is closely linked to that of the monks and their practices of medicine . It must be said that they have long remained the only repositories of knowledge related to their therapeutic properties.

For this reason, in the collective imagination, a “garden of the simple” is organized in the same way as those that were cultivated in the monasteries: thematic and geometric spaces, arranged in regular, square or rectangular beds, delimited borders boxwood pruned to plessis or boards. Between the squares, the alleys arranged in a cross , used for the passage of gardeners and to facilitate drainage and irrigation .

Simple structured garden
The garden of the simple trees is next to the vegetable garden, the ornamental garden (for prayer), the garden of tinctorial plants and the orchard .

These gardens must symbolize perfection, inherent in every work of God. References to religion are omnipresent: the presence of the boxwood that symbolizes immortality, a well or a fountain in the center of the garden to symbolize the resurrection, and sometimes a bench to indulge in contemplation and meditation.

Few writings are there to testify to a precise organization in squares, but in reconstructions, medicinal plants are often grouped according to their therapeutic indications :

Plants against digestive disorders: angelica officinale , wild chicory, verbena officinale …,
Sedative plants: hops , melissa , valerian …,
Plants against lung diseases: white , mauve , thyme …
Garden of medicinal and ornamental plantsGarden of medicinal and ornamental plantsView Full-Size Image
Geometric or natural, create your garden of medicinal plants

The monastic model of the garden of the simple can be a source of inspiration for the organization of your garden, but it is up to you to personalize it.

For a structured scheme , the establishment of low and cut vegetation borders formed of persistent, as well as the repeated use of the same plant in different squares bring out the geometry and the symmetry of the plane.

A “natural” garden favors the curves of the trails and plays with the associations of tall, ornamental plants and ground cover .

As you would in the vegetable garden, consider the cultivation requirements of each plant (soil, watering, sunshine …) before forming associations.

Simple garden next to the orchard
What medicinal herbs grow in the garden?

In medieval simple gardens, for example, burdock was found for its root, known to treat dermatoses, from the street supposedly “to soothe the excessive bubbling of blood in man”, the absinthe , considered an antidote to hemlock poisoning!

Today, it is wiser to turn to plants whose medicinal properties and safety are proven!

Simple Garden – Aromatic herbs and condiments
Tip : do not forget that most food plants are also herbal medicines. Invite aromatics and condiments to enter your garden of simple:

The hyssop , against the bronchial affections and the stuffy nose, and to enhance the sauces;
The lavender , against sleep disorders and to flavor desserts;
The lemon balm , against sleep disorders and digestive and nervous to dress salads;
The mint , against digestive disorders and to perfume your kitchen;
The rosemary , for its action on the liver and stimulating side, and to flavor meats;
The officinal sage , against the digestive problems and the difficult rules, and to give taste to farces,
The Thyme : to ward off colds and compose the bouquet garni,
And again, the dill , the sagebrush town, the Roman chamomile , the poppy , the fennel sweet, the marjoram real, wild thyme, the concern , the verbena … the list is long!