Jekka’s Riverstone culinary kitchen herb garden

Jekka’s Riverstone culinary kitchen herb garden

Jekka has created a herb garden for Riverstone, a provider of exceptional London living for the over 65s, at their Kensington residence in London. It is part of a community garden for residents and visitors to enjoy, which she is delivering alongside Jekka’s friend and landscape designer Andy Sturgeon.

Andy has designed the gardens to take people on a journey through the space – offering horticulturally rich and seasonal landscapes that residents can interact with all year round. Interconnected pathways and seating areas have been established to allow for chance meetings and social interaction with neighbours, while trees and shrubs create more private areas, providing the perfect balance for residents.

Within these gardens is Jekka’s Riverstone kitchen herb garden. Jekka’s vision for the herb garden is to create an area which residents can enjoy. Jekka hopes that along with their friends, children and grandchildren they will be able to pick herbs, enjoy the space and, most importantly, make it their own.

Riverstone will also be hosting workshops and seed-sowing days for residents and their families – a herb experience that can be  shared with loved ones, and something rewarding and tangible for people to take away from the garden.

The herb garden at Riverstone will have a wide selection of herbs from Jekka's collection and listed below. Many will be familiar, but will also include some of Jekka’s own cultivars such as Thymus ‘Jekka’, a thyme with a wonderful flavour. Jekka says, “We have also chosen to incorporate some less-familiar herbs – such as Lemon Verbena (Aloysia citrodora) that makes the most relaxing tisane and Oysterleaf (Mertensia maritima), that has light, fresh leaves and beautiful bright blue, bell-shaped flowers opening from pink buds in early summer – that may encourage residents to step outside their culinary comfort zone.”

An increasing number of people wish to grow their own for both the taste and pleasure, as well as the cost savings. Although this blog focuses on Jekka’s Riverstone kitchen herb garden, it is applicable to all kitchen herb gardens. The planting plan is given below for you to build your own culinary herb garden.

This blog forms part of our sustainable gardener series, and follows on from Jekka’s small herb garden ideas and Jekka’s tips for the balcony herb gardener. These blogs have been created to allow everyone to start growing and enjoying herbs regardless of the space available.

Sustainable herbs in a kitchen garden

It is important that herbs in a culinary herb garden are grown following organic and sustainable practices. This includes using organic feeds and no harmful pesticides as well as peat free compost and substrates.

The result is not only great tasting, healthy culinary herbs but also a remarkable biodiversity that includes important pollinators. In turn, these pollinators are vital in making sustainable environments.

Furthermore, gardens, especially productive culinary kitchen gardens, can help combat climate change in so many ways. For example,  helping to reduce our emissions and store more carbon, providing safe havens for our wildlife and  contributing to a more comfortable and safer local environment. As the number of us living in cities is increasing, the importance of access to green spaces and gardens can only grow and become increasingly vital for our health and well–being.

Want to know more? Read Jekka’s organic and sustainable approach to growing herbs

How to create a kitchen herb garden

At Jekka’s we wish everyone to grow and use culinary herbs as they not only taste delicious, but they  look beautiful and are highly beneficial too. Jekka believes that “there is a deep satisfaction in cultivating herbs and then being able to use them in your cooking.”

As with every kitchen or cook’s herb garden, the best site is in a sunny area easily accessible from the kitchen. This is the case in the Riverstone Kensington residence, where the chefs will be able to reach the herb garden from the kitchen of the restaurant.

The sunnier the position of your herb kitchen garden, the better the flavour as the sun brings the oils to the surface of the leaf of herbs such as Sage, Coriander, Rosemary, Basil, Oregano and Thyme.

A kitchen herb garden can be grown in the ground, in containers or, as with the Riverstone kitchen herb garden, in raised beds that are well drained and has irrigation, preferably in the form of leaky hose that have been laid after planting.

Empty bed ready for planting

Jekka’s top 10 must-haves in any kitchen herb garden are:

  1. Basil (Ocimum) – There are many forms of Basil, they can range in colour and taste from Ocimum basilicum purpurascens with its dark purple leaves and pink flowers to Ocimum africanum (syn. Ocimum x citriodorum) with bright yellow leaves and a distinct lemon scent. It is a popular herb and a staple in the summer kitchen. Fresh Basil is best used straight away, but to preserve this herb it can be infused in oil or vinegar or made into sauces and butters. Want to know more? Read Jekka’s blog All About Basil.

  2. Bay (Laurus nobilis) - Bay is a very important culinary herb that is a must-have in cooking. A principal ingredient in bouquet garni and used frequently with milk dishes, stews and soups. Want to know more? Read Jekka’s blog All About Bay.

  3. Chives (Allium) - Chives are a common ingredient in cooking and can be found in many culinary herb gardens. The most common form is Allium schoenoprasum with its purple globe shaped flowers. Both the leaves and flowers are edible, they have mild onion flavour. Want to know more? Read Jekka’s blog All About Alliums.

  4. Hyssop (Hyssopus) – Hyssop has dense spikes of small flowers and, depending on the variety, can be blue, pink or white. The small, aromatic, green leaves were previously used a lot in cooking but are often forgotten for the more common Thyme and Oregano. Hyssop leaves can be added to soups, stews and fatty food.

  5. Lemon Verbena (Aloysia citrodora) - Lemon Verbena has highly fragrant lemon scented green leaves with small delicate white flowers. The leaves can be used to make the most refreshing tisane as well as in jams, jellies, ice cream and cakes. The flowers are also edible and have an intense lemon flavour.

  6. Mint (Mentha) - Mint is a culinary delight and has a variety of uses in both sweet or savoury dishes. For example, you can make wonderful vinegars and jellies as well as a tea that aids digestion. Want to know more? Read Jekka’s Guide to Mint.

  7. Oregano (Origanum) – Oregano is grown for its strong tasting, slightly spicy and pungent leaves, Oregano is an important herb 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.

  8. Parsley (Petroselinum) - We advocate using Parsley for flavour, it is mildly bitter and enhances the taste of other foods and herbs. It is therefore best added at the end of cooking. All Parsleys are a good source of Vitamins A and C and they are also high in iron.

  9. Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus) - Rosemary is a staple in the kitchen combining well with meat, especially lamb, casseroles, tomato sauces, baked fish, rice, salads, egg dishes, apples, summer wine cups, cordials, herbal infusions, vinegars and oils. You can also use the upright varieties as flavourful barbecue sticks. Want to know more? Read Jekka’s Guide to Rosemary.

  10. Thyme (Thymus) - Thyme is a genus that is very diverse in appearance coming from many different parts of the world. It has been used for a long time both for its culinary and medicinal properties. Thyme aids digestion and helps break down fatty foods. It is one of the main ingredients of bouquet garni; it is also good in stocks, marinades and stews. Want to know more? Read Jekka’s Guide to Thyme.

Planted bed showing Mint, Basils, Red Amaranth, Bay and Calendula

Jekka’s Riverstone kitchen herb garden

The herb garden at Riverstone Kensington  consists of two L-shaped raised beds that enclose a seating area. Being in raised bed, it is easier to maintain and harvest the herbs. By providing seating it in the middle of the herb garden the residents at Riverstone are surrounded by herbs full of interesting scents and colours that can really lift spirits. Just being able to watch nature at work can be inspiring, relaxing and improve people’s well-being.

The main entrance to the kitchen herb garden is from the restaurant and kitchen, as the chefs also wish to use the herbs to complement their dishes. Salad herbs and Basils have been included along the edges of the beds for the chefs and residents to easily harvest.

Jekka’s design consists of two pyramid bay trees to give the height that then cascades down into an interwoven tapestry of colours and textures. All the herbs used have a culinary purpose but also provide a haven for pollinators and natural wildlife in the heart of London.

The more unusual herbs found in Riverstone’s kitchen herb garden are:

Culinary Herb


Red Amaranth (Amaranthus tricolor 'Red Army')

Red Amaranth has striking long lasting small red flowers, followed by seeds which are edible when cooked.


Lemon Basil (Ocimum x africanum)

Out of all the Basils, Lemon Basil is one our favourites as it has intensely citrus scented leaves with a great culinary flavour. It can be used to make marinades for fish, chicken, rice and pasta dishes.


Garlic Chives (Allium tuberosum)

Garlic Chives compliments normal Chives with attractive white star shaped flowers that, as with the leaves, has a mild garlic flavour. They flower after Chives providing a longer display of summer flowers.


Swiss Ricola Mint (Mentha x piperita f. citrata 'Swiss Ricola')

At Jekka’s we grow over 40 different Mints and it is difficult to choose favourites. The residences were particularly interested in making herbal infusions and, in our opinion, Swiss Ricola Mint is one of the best with its strongly peppermint scented leaves.


Oysterleaf (Mertensia maritima)

The Oysterleaf is a new herb on sale at Jekka’s and is very popular with chefs and gardeners alike. It is such a stunning plant, which both looks good and tastes good.  It has a prostrate habit, with fleshy, blue-grey-green leaves that grow up to 10cm long. The branched clusters of bright blue, bell-shaped flowers are typical of the Borage family to which it belongs. They start off pink and turn blue as they flower in early summer.


Painted Sage (Salvia viridis)

Painted Sage as colour and interest to the garden with small purple, white or pink flowers, which are over shadowed by wonderful colourful sterile bracts of purple, pink, blue and white, often with green veins. Like most Sages, it is culinary and the flowers and bracts are edible and look great in a green salad.


French Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus 'French')


French Tarragon really should be in Jekka’s top 10 so we include it here as every culinary garden should have it. It is a herbaceous perennial with aromatic, long narrow smooth, green leaves that have an anise flavour. Its flavour promotes appetite and complements so many dishes; such as chicken, veal, fish, stuffed tomatoes and, of course, it is the main ingredient in sauce bearnaise and the traditional ingredient of Fines Herbes.


Vietnamese Coriander (Persicaria odorata)

Vietnamese Coriander is grown for its pungent, highly flavoured leaves that are commonly used in Vietnamese cooking. When being used, they should be added just before serving to keep the intense flavour.  


Jekka’s design for Riverstone’s kitchen herb garden


Jekka's Riverstone Kitchen Herb Garden Planting Plan

The complete planting list for Riverstone’s kitchen herb garden (linked to Jekkapedia):

Red Amaranth (Amaranthus tricolor 'Red Army')

Lemon Basil (Ocimum x africanum)

Thai Basil (Ocimum basilicum 'Horapha Nanum')

Bay (Laurus nobilis)

Borage (Borago officinalis)

Pot Marigold (Calendula officinalis)

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)

Garlic Chives (Allium tuberosum)

Dill (Anethum graveolens)

Bronze Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare 'Purpureum')

Rock Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis subsp. aristatus)

Lavender Christiana (Lavandula x christiana)

Lavender Miss Muffett (Lavandula angustifolia 'Miss Muffett')

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

Lemon Verbena (Aloysia citrodora)

Chocolate Mint (Mentha x piperita f. citrata 'Chocolate')

Moroccan Mint (Mentha spicata var. crispa 'Moroccan')

Swiss Ricola Mint (Mentha x piperita f. citrata 'Swiss Ricola')

Tashkent Mint (Mentha spicata 'Tashkent')

Nasturtium Empress of India (Tropaeolum majus 'Empress of India')

Dwarf Oregano (Origanum vulgare 'Nanum')

Golden Oregano (Origanum vulgare 'Aureum')

Greek Oregano (Origanum vulgare subsp. hirtum 'Greek')

Oysterleaf (Mertensia maritima)

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)

French Parsley (Petroselinum crispum 'French')

Sweet Rocket (Hesperis matronalis)

Rosemary Rampant Boule (Salvia rosmarinus Prostrata Group 'Rampant Boule')

Rosemary Severn Sea (Salvia rosmarinus 'Severn Sea')

Painted Sage (Salvia viridis)

Narrow Leaved Sage (Salvia lavandulifolia)

French Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus 'French')

Compact Thyme (Thymus vulgaris 'Compactus')

Jekka's Thyme (Thymus 'Jekka')

Lemon Thyme (Thymus 'Culinary Lemon')

Orange Scented Thyme (Thymus 'Fragrantissimus')

Silver Posie Thyme (Thymus 'Silver Posie')

Vietnamese Coriander (Persicaria odorata)


    Jekka's Riverstone Kitchen Herb Garden

    Want to know more?

    You can find more about herbs in Jekka’s blog and videos as well as Jekka's book 'A Pocketful of Herbs' or Jekka's Complete Herb Book, browsing Jekkapedia and exploring our herb based recipes.

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

    For advice on growing and maintaining herbs, check out ‘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.

    Please also see 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)

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

    For more information about Riverstone and to visit their restaurant and Jekka's culinary kitchen herb garden, please see their website here.