The Herb Guide

Learn About Herbs For Healing and Cooking

Aromatic Herbs
Most aromatic herbs can be used for cooking and medicinal purposes, but sometimes they're just fun to plant because of their wonderful aroma. The essential oils of many of these herbs are used in aromatherapy, but simply sitting in the garden and inhaling their wonderful smells is a therapy in itself.

When one thinks of an aromatic plant, lavender is probably the first one that springs to mind. A native of the Mediterranean this plant has small purple flowers and is just as pretty to look at as it is to smell. The scent of lavender has long been used in sachets, in perfumes, and as aromatherapy. Plant it in your garden and you may see an influx of black swallowtail butterflies who are attracted to the plant.

Typically you think of sage as a cooking herb but this herb is a member of the mint family, and also has a wonderful aroma. The next time you pass a sage plant, break off a leaf and rub it between your thumb and forefinger - ummmm.....

Sweet Majoram is another mint herb that has been used for centuries and is a popular herb for perfumed soaps. It has kind of a spicy scent and is often used in potpourri.

There are many aromatic herbs that you can use in sachets and potpourri. It is easy to preserve them once you've cut them from the garden or, even the side of the road. If you keep the stems and a jar of cold water in the fridge they'll last about a week. If you need to keep them for longer put them in a jar of preserving oil which will keep them for about three months. You could always freeze them in a plastic bag or put chopped up pieces in an ice cube tray.

If you want to make potpourri out of your aromatic herbs then you want to dry them. Tie the stems together in a loose bundle and hang them upside down in a cool dark place. With these herbs the oils are what have the aroma -- and by drying out the herb some of the oils will evaporate. However, you can buy airtight bags or special potpourri jars or sachet bags to store them in and try to use herbs that keep their scents such as thyme, mint and sage.