Jekka’s Blue Zone Garden for Riverstone

Jekka’s Blue Zone Garden for Riverstone

We were delighted to be invited to update Jekka’s Riverstone culinary kitchen herb garden with the latest thinking for Blue Zone gardening.

Blue Zone gardening has been said to contribute to a healthier and longer life. In this blog, we will explore what Blue Zones are, how they relate to gardening, and the key principles that can transform your garden into a source of vitality and well-being. 

What are Blue Zones?

Blue Zones are regions of the world where people live significantly longer lives, often exceeding a century. These areas, identified by National Geographic Fellow Dan Buettner and his team of researchers, share common lifestyle characteristics that contribute to their residents' longevity and well-being. The original Blue Zones are located in Okinawa (Japan), Sardinia (Italy), Nicoya (Costa Rica), Ikaria (Greece), and Loma Linda (California, USA). 

Blue Zone Gardening

Gardening is a central activity in many Blue Zones. It's more than just a source of colour, biodiversity and flavour, it is ultimately a way of life. In these regions, gardens are woven into the fabric of the community, serving as a meeting place, a source of physical activity, and a vital connection to the earth.

Gardening in Blue Zones encompasses several principles that you can integrate into your own garden and we have aimed to include these in Jekka’s Blue Zone Garden for Riverstone. These principles create a garden that not only provides food but also fosters a sense of purpose, community, and well-being. 

Jekka’s Blue Zone Garden for Riverstone

The 5 principles of Blue Zone Gardening

  1.  Principle 1: Plant-Based Diets
In Blue Zones, the diet is primarily plant-based, with an emphasis on whole foods. This approach aligns perfectly with the concept of a “garden-to-table” or “fork-to-fork” lifestyle that is becoming increasingly popular in the UK. As we have long believed at Jekka’s, by growing your own herbs, fruits and vegetables, you have control over what goes into your food and can ensure it's free from harmful pesticides and chemicals. The result is a healthier and tastier plant that does both you and your local biodiversity wonders.
To start, consider planting a variety of herbs that are staples in Blue Zone diets and we have selected several for inclusion in Jekka’s Blue Zone Garden for Riverstone that you can see below.

Jekka's Herb Based Recipes

  1. Principle 2: Regular Physical Activity
Gardening is a fantastic way to stay active without hitting the gym. Blue Zone residents often engage in physical activities like gardening, walking, and cycling as part of their daily routines. By incorporating gardening into your lifestyle, you can enjoy the benefits of physical exercise without feeling like you're "working out."
For Jekka’s Blue Zone Garden for Riverstone we are using raised beds, which encourage both movement and physical engagement. Whilst maintaining, harvesting or just enjoying the beds residents will be stretching, bending, and reaching. Raised beds not only keeps you active but also adds visual interest to your outdoor space.

 

  1. Principle 3: Social Connections and Community

In Blue Zones, social connections play a crucial role in promoting longevity and well-being. Gardens serve as gathering places where friends and family come together to share meals, stories, and experiences. Within Jekka’s Blue Zone Garden for Riverstone the central area of the raised beds contains a seating area, allowing residents to gather and eat within the herb garden.  

Riverstone actively encourages a community at their residencies through workshops and activities as well as encouraging families and the local community to come enjoy the garden. Gardening becomes a shared activity that not only enriches your life but also contributes to a sense of belonging and support.

 

  1. Principle 4: A Sense of Purpose

Residents of Blue Zones often have a strong sense of purpose, or "ikigai" (a Japanese term meaning "a reason for being"). Gardening can be a source of purpose by giving you a reason to get up in the morning and engage with the world around you. Whether you're tending to plants, harvesting produce, or planning your garden's layout, there's always something to look forward to. For more information, Jekka has produced a seasonal blog series covering tips on what do in spring, summer and autumn.

Putting Down Roots helping in Jekka's Herb Garden

  1.  Principle 5: Stress Reduction and Mindfulness

Gardening is a natural stress-reliever, and stress reduction is a common trait among Blue Zone residents. The act of gardening can be meditative, allowing you to focus on the present moment and escape the pressures of daily life. Working and caring for a garden gives you an opportunity to appreciate the beauty of nature, the growth of your plants, and the satisfaction of nurturing life.

Want to know more? Check out Jekka’s blog on the health and well-being of gardening & horticulture.

 

Jekka's Herb Garden

 

Jekka’s Blue Zone Herb Garden at Riverstone

Top 10 herbs to include in a Blue Zone Herb Garden are:

  1. Chives (Allium schoenoprasum): Chives are hardy perennial with a mild onion flavour. They add flavour to dishes while providing vitamins and aiding digestion. Want to know more? Read Jekka's Blog All about Alliums.

  2. Coriander (Coriandrum sativum): Coriander has antioxidant properties and a bright flavour. Its citrusy notes make it a favorite in a wide range of cuisines.

  3. Dill (Anethum graveolens): Dill complements many dishes but goes particularly well with fish and pickles.

Dill (Anethum graveolens)

 

  1. Mint (Mentha): Mint is a fantastic herbaceous perennial, which is a culinary delight, making either wonderful vinegars and jellies or as a tea that aids digestion. As it is easier to grow than to eradicate, Jekka has planted the Mints in a container sunk into the raised bed. Want to know more? Read Jekka's Guide to Mint.

  2. Lavender (Lavandula): Lavender is one of most popular plants in today's herb garden. Its flowers are wonderful for attracting pollinators to gardens and, as a culinary herb, it is also extremely good infused in sugar for making cakes, biscuits and puddings. Want to know more? Read Jekka's Guide to Lavender.

 

  1. Oregano (Origanum): Oregano has both great culinary and medicinal properties. Its antibacterial properties make it a healthy addition to meals for those focusing on longevity. Often found in Italian, Greek and Mexican cooking. It goes particularly well with tomatoes, aubergine and lamb and is generally added just at the end of cooking, so that it retains its pungency. Want to know more? Read Jekka's Guide to Oregano.

  2. Parsley (Petroselinum): Parsley is a wonderful addition to a Blue Zone garden as it has a high vitamin content that supports overall health. It's a versatile herb that can be used fresh or dried.

  3. Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus): Rosemary has a delightful scent, aids memory, and provides antioxidant benefits. It is a wonderful culinary herb that and makes a fantastic herbal infusion. Want to know more? Read Jekka's Guide to Rosemary.

Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus)

 

  1. Sage (Salvia): Sage is an important horticulture group consisting of annuals, biennials, perennials, herbs, sub-shrubs and shrubs of various habits. It's known for its anti-inflammatory properties and is often used in traditional medicine and cooking.

  2. Thyme (Thymus): Thyme is a hardy herb that originates from the Mediterranean and is a must for a Blue Zone Garden. Its antiseptic properties are valued in traditional medicine, and it can be used to add flavour to many dishes. Want to know more? Read Jekka's Guide to Thyme.

Jekka’s Blue Zone Garden for Riverstone

Conclusion: Your Blue Zone Garden Journey

By incorporating these principles into your garden, you're not just growing plants—you're cultivating a lifestyle that promotes longevity, health, and happiness. A Blue Zone garden is a space where you can grow healthy, organic herbs, stay active through physical gardening tasks, connect with others, find purpose, and reduce stress. Blue Zone gardening is about embracing a way of life that leads to a longer, healthier existence.

 

Want to know more?

Jekka’s has a wealth of material on designing and planting culinary herb gardens. Some additional Guides and Blogs that might also help are: 

You can also find more about herbs in Jekka’s blog, our past newsletters and videos as well as Jekka's new book '100 Herbs to Grow' and Jekka's existing books, namely 'A Pocketful of Herbs' or Jekka's Complete Herb Book, and also by browsing Jekkapedia and exploring our herb based recipes.

Jekka's Herbs of the month blogs: Bay (January), Rosemary (February), Salad Burnet (March), French Tarragon (April), Angelica (May), Alliums (June), Lavender (July), Basil (August), Mint (September), Szechuan Pepper (October), Thyme (November) and Curry Tree (December).

Alternatively, come and visit the herb farm in South Gloucestershire at one of our Open DaysMaster Classes or Herb Experiences (see our events calendar).

For advice on growing and maintaining herbs, check out Jekka's How to Grow Herbs videos and ‘Jekka’s Seasonal Tips’ blog series, which includes what to do in your herb garden in early spring, late spring, summer and autumn & winter. Together they form the basis of Jekka’s guide on how to grow herbs

Herb plants are available and you can organise a collection from our herb farm in South Gloucestershire or at one of our Open Days or Herb Experiences (see our events calendar). Please see our 'Looking Good List' for availability and use our webform or email your list directly to us (sales@jekkas.com). We no longer offer a general mail order service for our plants but we do offer a limited selection of Jekka's Culinary Herb Boxes.