Sunset's Mediterranean herb garden features old favorites and new introductions.
Thomas J. Story
Our 8 favorites
Buy plants at nurseries, or order from Mountain Valley Growers (559/338-2775).
1. Italian oregano thyme. Leaves have a zesty thyme flavor; good in marinades and tomato-based sauces and with vegetables. 1 foot tall. Sunset climate zones 1-24.
2. English thyme. Leaves add flavor to meats, stews, and tomato-based sauces. Spreading plant to 1 foot tall. Zones 1-24.
3. Lemon thyme. Leaves have a lemon fragrance; brighten flavored vinegars. Spreading plant to 1 foot tall. Zones 1-24.
4. Garden sage. Shrubby perennial used to flavor stews. 1 to 3 feet tall. Zones 2-24, H1, H2.
5. 'Berggarten' sage. Tasty in chowders, stuffings, and gravy. Compact plant to 16 inches tall. Zones 2-24, H1, H2.
6. Conehead thyme. Leaves taste like thyme with the heat turned up; spicy purple blooms make good garnish for salsa verde. Mounding plant to 3 feet tall. Zones 13-17, 19-24.
7. Flat-leafed parsley. Fresh sprigs and minced leaves are a classic garnish. 6 to 12 inches tall. Zones A3, 1-24.
8. Greek oregano. Leaves have a spicy flavor that's strongest if harvested when plant is in bud but before it flowers. To 2½ feet tall. Zones 8, 9, 12-24.
• English lavender. Aromatic leaves add a subtle floral flavor to honey, marinades, and desserts. Mounds of foliage to 2 feet tall and wide; unbranched flower stems rise 4 to 12 inches above foliage. Zones 2-24.
• French tarragon. Thin, aromatic leaves are a classic flavoring for chicken and egg dishes. 2 feet tall. Zones A1-A3, 2b-10, 14-24.
• Rosemary. Short, narrow leaves add an intense peppery flavor to grilled meat, especially lamb. 1 to 6 feet tall, depending on variety. Zones 4-24, H1, H2.
• Sweet marjoram. Tiny gray leaves have a floral scent and milder flavor than Greek oregano; use in salads, vinegars, and tomato dishes. 1 to 2 feet tall. Zones 8-24.