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When the sun shines suddenly like this a gardener can get easily overwhelmed. The weather has put us all a bit behind. A twittering chorus of “must divide those geraniums”, “must weed that flowerbed” starts up in my head, but I know from experience that the easiest and fastest way to quell those voices is to mow the lawn. There is really nothing you can do that is quite so fantastically transformative than to mow a lawn (and yes, I am also well aware that there is nothing quite so dull either…swings and roundabouts)… but it will instantly make you feel master of your space again.
With the weather finally doing its thing, it’s time to plant up a herb box, with everything I need to reflect this change in the kitchen. W6 Garden Centre has a marvellous collection of small herbs in pots right now, and this project is a half-hour do, and perfect for including children if you have bored ones hanging around…
A selection of herbs. My pot includes:
- a sweet little lollipop bay tree
- purple sage
- and two little pots of sea thrift (not edible) for colour
- A compost mix conducive to herbs in a pot – I use 50% peat-free multi-purpose, 50% John Innes no 2 with a few handfuls of horticultural grit added.
- A really beautiful trough or pot (this is a long-term thing). This one is by Tassima, measuring 50cm x 23cm
- A couple of crocks (broken pieces of china or polystyrene to put over the holes at the bottom of the pot and stop them getting clogged up).
First, make sure all your plants are watered thoroughly, and it’s also a good idea to soak your container too, if it is terracotta.
Put a crock over each hole in your container, so there is a small space into which no compost can get, and through which water may flow freely out. Now mix your compost in a trug or bin, and put a layer of it at the bottom of the pot.
Carefully remove the plastic pot from each plant and tease out the roots by giving them a rub. Once you’ve decided where you want everything, place each plant and fill in as you go with more compost, making sure everything is firmly bedded in and comfortable. I put the bay in the centre at the back, and then the chives and mint either side of it. The oregano and sage went in the front (and a certain amount of squishing went on to achieve this…don’t be shy) and then the thrift as a final flourish. If you don’t want thrift, anything small and pretty would work in its place.
Now water everything really well, so that you can see the water start to gurgle out of the holes in the bottom of the pot. Leave the whole thing sitting in a tray of water for a good hour to make sure that it is fully saturated, and then place it wherever you can best get at it for harvest.
I couldn’t resist making up a separate, smaller trough (same method) with three different thymes – one ordinary, one variegated and one grey. You only have to sweep a hand over these to get a whiff of that intoxicating fragrance.
Both these containers need a sunny spot, and regular watering (remember that terracotta is porous and these plants are relying on you totally for all of their moisture, even if it rains).
W6 Garden Centre is located at the tip of Ravenscourt Park and are open year round. They are passionate about plants and stock selections that will delight experienced and novice gardeners alike. They support British growers, and the majority of their plants come from specialist UK nurseries.
Laetitia Maklouf is a celebrity gardener and local mum. Her latest book “Sweet Peas for Summer” shows you how to make a garden from scratch in a few months.