It is wonderful to see that herbs are one of the Royal Horticultural Societies top trends for 2023. Personally, as a herb farm, we think they are always at the top from both a culinary and medicinal sense. After all, they taste good, look good and do you good!
With this is mind, Jekka's top 5 herbs for 2023 are:
- Caper (Capparis spinosa var. inermis)
- Dill (Anethum graveolens)
- Greek Basil (Ocimum minimum 'Greek')
- Myrtle (Myrtus)
- Tashkent Mint (Mentha spicata 'Tashkent')
Also in RHS the list for 2023 is peat free gardening and, at Jekka's, we are strong advocates of sustainable, environmentally conscious and organic gardening. Last year, we wrote a guide on sustainable gardening, which can be seen here.
Jekka’s five top herbs for 2023
1. Caper (Capparis spinosa var. inermis)
We love the Caper plant at Jekka’s, not only do the caper berries taste great but the caper flower is stunningly beautiful. Both the berries and flowers are edible and the leaves impart a milder flavour. Capers are a common part of the Mediterranean diet along with olives, grapes, almond, pistachio, sun-dried tomatoes, basil and garlic.
Capers from the family Capparaceae and are half hardy semi deciduous, evergreen shrubs. As Jekka says, a caper bush can be planted where the olive tree grows.
Want to know more? Read Jekka’s blog “All about Capers” and try her Caper leaf salad.
Caper (Capparis spinosa var. inermis)
2. Dill (Anethum graveolens)
Jekka uses all parts of the dill plant from the leaves and flowers to the seeds. Jekka much prefers eating the seeds in the green, which have a lovely flavour. Dill improves the appetite and digestion and is also a calmative. This is reflected in its name as it is said to have come from the Anglo-Saxon dylle or the Norse dilla, meaning to soothe or lull.
Dill is also a symbol of pride for Ukraine and the image of this plant became one of the emblems of Ukrainian troops.
Dill from the family Apiaceae, is an annual that can grow up to 1.5m with umbels of small yellow/ green flowers. It is best to grow Dill and Fennel in separate locations as if they cross breed it makes fendill and this does not taste as good.
Dill (Anethum graveolens)
3. Greek Basil (Ocimum minimum 'Greek')
Greek basil is one of Jekka’s favourite Basils and a pot of Greek Basil on the table is a sign of welcome. It has a compact form with small, green, oval pointed leaves that is the perfect combination with fresh tomatoes and garlic. It can also be used in pasta sauces and salads. Also, not generally known, it makes a lovely calming tisane; just add a couple of sprigs to boiling water.
Basil is from the family Lamiaceae and is native to India, the middle East and some Pacific Islands. It only came to Western Europe in the 16th Century with the spice trade but is now commonly found in the UK and used in many dishes.
Basils grown at Jekka’s are typically available at the May open day but this depends on having good light levels and a warm period!
4. Tashkent Mint (Mentha spicata 'Tashkent')
Tashkent Mint is one of our favourite mints due to it culinary versatility being great with new potatoes and mint sauces as well as mixed with sugar to make your mojito. It is a spicata or a spearmint, which is the quintessential mint that is warm and sweet with light menthol notes.
Mints (Mentha) are part of the Lamiaceae family and are naturalised all over the world. This is one of Jekka’s favourite mints and a must have for 2023.
5. Myrtle (Myrtus)
Myrtle is a sign of love and fidelity, often found in bridal bouquets. The Queen Elizabeth II funeral wreath contained Myrtle. Touchingly, this was cut from a plant grown from a sprig of Myrtle that was in the Queen's wedding bouquet.
Myrtle leaves, flowers and berries as well as the bark have all been used in cooking. At Jekka’s we particular like Mirto, a drink created from the Myrtle berry in Sardinia and Corsica by macerating the berries in alcohol.
Myrtle, from the Myrtaceae family, is a beautiful hardy evergreen shrub. It will tolerate temperatures down to -10C if grown out of the north wind and in a well-drained soil.
Want to know more? Read Jekka’s blog “All about Myrtle” and see the different varieties.
Want to know more?
You can find more about herbs in Jekka’s blog, our past newsletters 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.
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).
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. Alternatively, buy Jekka’s Herb Calendar.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org). 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.