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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.
Herbal Centrepiece Combinations
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.
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.
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.
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.
Centre – Spearmint
Surround with lemon mint, chocolate mint, licorice mint and grapefruit mint.