Garden Club rediscover the Forest Garden herb layer

Garden Club members have spent several sunny Friday mornings clearing the Forest Garden and rediscovering forgotten plants amongst the undergrowth. It’s been instructive to see how the garden has evolved over the past year with minimal human intervention. Some plants have held their own while others have disappeared amongst the more vigorous weeds around them. As we cleared one sheltered spot of nettles and brambles, the unmistakable scent of mint hung in the air, reminding us of the mint that was planted several years ago. Mint (pictured above) has lived up to its reputation as a vigorous spreader and has thrived in the forest garden through this year of lockdowns.

Valued for its flavour and scent, mint spreads rapidly by underground stems. It’s ability to provide excellent ground cover and stabilize the soil is evident in the Forest garden where we found several varieties of mint resurfacing from their winter dormancy. The chocolate mint (Mentha x piperita ‘Chocolate’) with its characteristic brown hue and peppermint (Mentha x piperita) with its brighter green leaves are forming a dense mat. The apple mint (Mentha suaveolens) with its large leaves and furry stems is making its way upwards through the undergrowth near the apple trees. Strawberry mint in the Forest garden nursery is waiting to be planted out. Each of these mints have a subtly different scent. We can’t quite agree whether each of the scents live up to their particular names!

Oregano and rosemary are other herbs from the mint family (Lamiaceae) that are growing in the Triangle Garden. There are several other herbs providing ground cover and interesting scents. These include chives (bottom pic) with their purple buds at the entrance to the garden, English mace (pic below) a relatively unknown perennial herb, chamomile and a young bay laurel.

Thanks to Kavita from Garden Club for this blog post.