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Starting a herb garden

‘Hot lavender, mints, savory, marjoram;
The marigold, that goes to bed wi’ the sun,
and with him rise weeping.’ ~

Shakespeare, Winter’s Tale

When we bought our home in Stockholm – without actually having seen it as we were living in Sydney – my father-in-law had been the only family member who had seen it. He’d described the backyard as ‘rather rocky’ which was Swedish for, ‘there is a bloody big rock smack bang in the middle of your garden’. We were not deterred, we bought it anyway.

When we arrived in Sweden on New Years Day, we drove straight from the airport to the townhouse, to see what we had just paid millions of krona for. It was love at first sight. When we got the keys a few days later, we walked in and were in heaven.

We ran through the house and room-by-room, squealed with delight. I peered out the back window and thought, he wasn’t bloody joking, the backyard is pretty much one big rock! what are we going to do with that? 

My husband gets a kiss

After living here a few weeks, the question of how we should utilise the backyard often came up. What to do, what to do…. One day, I turned to TSH and said, ‘Seriously, what are we going to do with the backyard?’. There was a pause and then he said, ‘We could remove the fence, cut back all the thorny scrub, expose the rock and turn it into a tiered herb garden’. He got a kiss for that.

So over the coming weeks, TSH did the hard labour of cutting back the overgrown mess and I became the operations manager. This project was the start of our dream to build a kitchen garden and to attempt sustainable living. My ‘all spirit/no skills’ approach to gardening was born.

Most of my friends/family in Sydney are growers and sowers, so from past conversations, I recalled something about ‘dry’ herbs and ‘moist’ herbs. I researched a bit and found out which herbs like dry soil (and should be planted at the top) and which like a good watering (and should be planted at the bottom). I also found out that mint is a fertile beast and you should plant it separately, to save your other herbs from invasion.

Rocky beginnings

We made three different trips to the stone shop to try to match the beast of a rock, with the new tiered wall, but to no avail. All the new stones looked new. Who knew? This was troubling to our sensitive eyes.

One day we went over to our besties, who were renovating and ripping up their stone floor. We stepped into their basement, both looked at the demolished floor and looked at each other. Voila, perfect match! ‘Can we have your old floor please?’ – course we could.

Growing things in Sweden

I have been very pleased to find out that growing things in Sweden is indeed possible, and very easy peasy. We have successfully grown: sage, dill, chives, thyme, mint, oregano, lavender, tarragon and rosemary. We also found out that basil has no business being in a delightful herb garden and is best grown indoors in your window sill.

To be able to step out into your backyard and pick fresh herbs to cook with, has been pure joy. PURE JOY. They taste so much better too. And it’s so easy to grow yourself. We’ve been able to skip buying highly expensive fresh herbs from the supermarket and spared the earth the single-use plastic that they come in.

We’ve been able to skip buying highly expensive fresh herbs from the supermarket and spared the earth the single-use plastic that they come in.

And I have a plan for winter, because soon our backyard is going to be snowed over. Lucky, my lavender’s hot.


Anyone for a mojito? Grown anything lately?

Helpful resources:

How to plant a kitchen herb garden

How to grow herbs

Polka beet carpaccio with goat cream cheese & tarragon pesto

Pa Svenska

Odla kyrddor

Smör smaksatt med kryddor från egen skörd

Polkabetscarpaccio med getostkräm & dragonpesto


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