Herbs for urban gardens

Having grown herbs for 30 years, this year Jekka McVicar (pic) will be showing her skills with a herb garden at the Chelsea Flower Show, where she has already won 14 gold medals. “The inspiration for the garden is based on conversations with hospitals and care professionals about what we can do to improve our own health within the context of gardens and plants,” says McVicar.”The garden will include plants known to benefit health.” Plants are so good at healing there are now several GPs who prescribe gardening and all sorts of herbs can help. You can gargle with sage, thyme, hyssop and honey and McVicar confides: “If like me getting to an age where you forget things, rosemary tea is good for restoring memory.” Even smelling rosemary stimulates memory and clears your head.

Jekka's Chelsea Garden perspective 4For our often clay-based Notting Hill gardens McVicar recommends growing angelica, which doesn’t mind shade, and you can make tea with the leaves which is good for indigestion. McVicar also recommends we try growing sorrel, said to boost eyesight, strengthen the immune system, improve digestion and increase energy levels. Also good for our urban gardens is salad burnett, parsley and red orach, a colourful spinach substitute which is good as an antihistamine.

The Chelsea garden (pic above right) is sponsored by St John’s Hospice, an independent charity based in the Hospital of St John’s and St Elizabeth in St John’s Wood. It provides specialised palliative care to more than 3,000 terminally-ill patients every year and the garden will be transplanted there for patients to enjoy when the show is over.

The Chelsea Flower Show is on from 24th – 28th May. jekkasherbfarm

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