Green power: Did you know parsley and mint are thought to help with anxiety? Here’s our list of common garden herbs that work wonders for your wellbeing.

There are many benefits to growing your own herbs — these edible plants emit intoxicating fragrances, and, because they don’t need improved soils, they’re perfect for the novice gardener. The best part? While herbs add delicious flavour to your cooking, they can also help give you a lift when you need it.

MINT

Spearmint, Vietnamese mint, apple mint and pineapple mint are just some of the many varieties available. Mint is easy to grow in shady, moist areas, and in pots. You can harvest the leaves as needed and use them in drinks, Asian salads and sweets. Mint-infused tea is said to help relieve anxiety and tension.

ROSEMARY

An evergreen shrub, rosemary likes hot weather and lasts a number of years, even if the soil remains dry. It makes a good hedge and will grow happily in a container — just trim it into shape at the end of summer. Rosemary is the perfect complement to lamb, and its woody stems make great skewers. Smelling rosemary oil has been shown to help boost memory.

CHIVES

An essential ingredient in potato salads, this perennial herb is a member of the onion family and looks a little like grass or a slender green onion. Chives grow well in the gardenor in pots, and need a sunny spot with slightly moist soil. Simply snip off the outer leaves as you need them. Chives have pretty pink flowers in summer, which make a lovely (and edible) addition to salads. It also contains choline, which can help promote sleep — and we all know how that can help us start the day a little happier.

PARSLEY

This versatile herb is the main ingredient in tabouli. It’s rich in vitamins and is said to be a good breath freshener and may also help reduce anxiety. The most common varieties are curly and flat-leaf, which you can grow from seed in autumn and spring — or you can cheat by buying seedlings. Parsley needs semi-shaded conditions and good, moist soil. Collect the seeds in autumn and sow them in the spring.

BASIL

This herb is easy to grow from seed — sow basil in spring and summer, and then collect the seeds in autumn, as the plant will die off in winter. Key in Mediterranean cooking, basil is also used for medicinal purposes — it is said to help relieve headaches, anxiety and mild depression, as well as aid digestion and stomach upsets.

THYME

This ground cover likes to creep over the earth, or spill out of a pot, and needs a sunny, sheltered position. Thyme is available in many varieties, including lemon, woolly, caraway and common, making it a delicious flavouring for chicken. Thyme also has antiseptic and antifungal properties, and is said to help counter the effects of ageing and boost wellbeing.

GETTING IT RIGHT

  • Herbs need sunlight, good drainage and regular water during dry weather. Don’t be tempted to add too much compost or manure, as you’ll get rapid growth at the expense of flavour. (A good rule of thumb is to add one bag of compost or manure for every square metre.)
  • Some Mediterranean herbs, such as rosemary and sage, prefer poorer, lime-rich soils. Mulch the soil around the herbs, taking care not to build the mulch up against their stems — about 5cm of sugarcane mulch is adequate.
  • When planting herbs in containers, use a good-quality potting mix and add water crystals to help the plants survive the summer heat.
  • Instead of feeding herbs with chemical fertilisers, use a light mulch of cow manure and a weak watering of seaweed solution. That way, you can enjoy the leaves and flowers you’re eating, knowing they’re free of nasty residues.