Create a living herb centrepiece

Pot up a beautiful herbal centrepiece for the table or back patio.

Herbs are an integral part of summer cooking. A novel and handy way to bring the herb garden to the patio is to pot up a centrepiece for the table. This planter is fragrant and decorative – and your guests can harvest fresh herbs themselves, using the handy scissors you provide.

Making a summer herb planter is easy. The container can be anything you choose; the only requirements are that it have drainage and be a minimum of 30 cm (12 in.) across and 7.5 cm (3 in.) deep. It could be an old tin bucket, a piece of pottery, a plastic-lined wicker basket, an old birdbath (simply drill some holes) or a homemade tufa planter.

Fill the container loosely with a sterilized potting soil with added organic nutrients – 20 per cent compost will do. Choose five of your favourite culinary herbs. Tuck the tallest-growing herb into the centre and place the other four around it. If your planter is large enough, add some colourful edible flowers, such as pansies or nasturtiums.

Top-dress with a slow-release organic fertilizer and water the planter.

The only care your planter will require is regular watering and feeding with a liquid organic fertilizer every two weeks. Place it in the centre of your table, attach a small pair of scissors and watch your portable herbal centrepiece grow and your guests enjoy.

When summer is over, remove faded annuals and bring your garden indoors near a bright, south-facing window, to provide the taste of fresh herbs all winter long.


All-Purpose Evergreen Centre – Colourful sage, such as tri-colour or purple
Surround with silver thyme, creeping rosemary, lemon thyme and chives. In summer, squeeze in a ‘Purple Ruffles’ basil and a few purple pansies.

Italian Centre – Tuscan blue rosemary
Surround with Italian parsley, golden oregano, Spanish thyme and purple sage. In summer, nestle in a sweet basil plant and a few nasturtiums.

French Centre – French lavender ‘Provence’ or ‘Grosso’
Surround with chervil, French tarragon, silver thyme and creeping rosemary. In summer, fill in any bare spots with curly parsley.

Lemon-Herb Centre – Lemon grass
Surround with lemon lavender, lemon thyme, lemon balm and lemon mint. In summer, nestle in a plant or two of lemon basil.

Mighty Mint Centre – Spearmint
Surround with lemon mint, chocolate mint, licorice mint and grapefruit mint.