Arne Herbs supplies plants for garden designers. We have specialist knowledge of historic Medieval and early Renaissance gardens and supply plants for Mediterranean gardens.
Arne Herbs is frequently asked to supply plants for Mediterranean garden designs,
which are traditionally said to enjoy hot dry Summers and warm wet winters.
However, it should be remembered that "Mediterranean" is a generalisation
for a wide range of habitats so that on the lee side of mountains, for instance,
the Winters are both cold and dry and plants from this environment may not
survive warm damp winters. Arne Herbs is happy to advise you on the best Mediterranean garden plants for your conditions.
Although lists of plantings of Medieval and early Renaissance gardens are occasionally available in bookshops, Arne Herbs maintains a comprehensive library of classical and medieval texts to guarantee the authenticity of your planting. We back theory with practice by providing the true species referred to in the original texts. This information is free to re-creators of historic plantings, but journalists and television producers are welcome to use our database on payment of a consultancy fee.
The nursery tries to maintain all the non-tropical plants mentioned by Dioscorides and Pliny, by Medieval writers including Macer, Crescenzi and Rufinus as well as the great but anonymous compilations of the "Tractatus" (Egerton 747) and "Agnus Castus". Our more modern sources include Braccio's survey of the Carreggi garden c1480, Caterina Sforza's "Esperimenti" and of course William Turner and PierAndrea Mattioli.
Garden Design Tips
If you are planning a garden, here are some of our tips for success with our plants.
- Remember that modern "Garden Centre" varieties of flowers have been bred more for colour and duration of flowering than for environmental friendliness. When given the choice, always go for a true species than a named variety.Formal gardens are high maintenance so leave plenty of room to get your machinery in and out
- A water feature is essential, the bigger the better, we will advise on the planting
- "Wagon wheel" garden designs are an anathema, plants never keep within their boundaries, the ones in the centre will be squashed up and harvesting/weeding will be impossible without treading on something precious. The rule is that if you haven't got room to build yourself a socking great arbour in the middle, don't bother, - it's a waste of time.
- Forget those television pundits who endlessly tell you to "dig in lots of organic compost". You will do your back in and, more importantly, most Mediterranean plants hate it. It will ruin their flavour, encourage them to put on lots of soft, rank growth and rot their stems in winter. Use white Cornish grit instead, it will reflect the light on to the leaves, improve drainage, suppress weeds, keep the roots cool and look good. This of course doesn't apply to the northern herbs mentioned in the "cooking herbs" paragraph.
- Living in a Scottish peat bog? Don't despair, just because your taragon will surely die, there are plenty of interesting herbs that will thrive in such conditions (just ask!), or failing that, build a courtyard garden with your favourite culinaries flourishing in pots.
- Herbs are welcoming when planted by the front door which normally faces the sun. Put them by the back door along with the dustbins and they will never thrive.
- Always garden in three dimensions, make sure you have lots of climbers or raised beds so that you have nice smells at nose level, after all you don't smell with your feet do you? Here is a list of our climbing plants chosen for scent, medicinal and environmental properties
- Some climbers denied anything to climb, make quite effective ground cover, however be warned, many of these have interestingly toxic properties
Planting a Herb Garden
A helpful generalisation about planting is that your kitchen herbs can be divided into two:
- Mediterraneans -Taragon for instance, that enjoy full sun, minimal water and fertilizer, and alkaline soil .
- North European - These prefer shadier damper conditions with richer soil such as Horse radish, chives and lovage.
Intermediates such as Fennel, Mint etc. which are more adaptable. The golden rule is not to mix the categories; if you do, the happiest plants will choke out the rest. This is particularly important if you are making a sink or trough garden so always use at least two troughs.