ISSUE 9, April 2004

The Duke of Wellington: A Brother in arms
Quarterly Communication: Address of the Grand Master and Report of the Board of General Purposes
Life with the Stars: Masons and famous people
Hall Stone Jewel: Cyril Spackman, designer
Travel: Jamaica
Grand Charity: Annual Report and Accounts
Masonic stamps: Masonry on stamps
Library & Museum of Freemasonry: Antients and Moderns go on-line
Masonic education: Events for Freemasons
Masonic charities: The continuing work
Bowel cancer: How the Grand Charity is helping
Royal Arch: Russia and Eastern Europe
Richard Eve: A former Grand Treasurer
Book reviews

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Growing your own herbs can be particularly rewarding, according to Roger Tabor, chairman of The Herb Society. They have a wide range of uses – cooking, flower arrangements, medicinal purposes or just for the lovely fragrances they give off.
      Depending on the plant will determine how you grow it. Annuals and biennials can be grown from seed, although it is often easier to buy the actual plant. Although many are available in garden centres all year round, ideally the best time is spring or early summer.
      Most herbs grow best in the sun with the ideal soil pH being 6.3 to 7.0 – slightly acidic to neutral. However, if you are not fortunate enough to already have this, it is possible to help the situation.
      The hardiness of a plant also needs to be taken into consideration, as herbs such as basil and nasturtiums are unlikely to survive in freezing temperatures and need to be taken indoors or put in a greenhouse. If you grow herbs indoors, even on a sunny windowsill, you are cutting the light by up to half, so it is important to keep turning the pots.
      As with flowers, you need to consider how herbs grow – and their colouring – particularly if you are thinking of making a herb garden. For example, herbs with purple leaves such as purple sage, and lavender, with its silvery leaves, can provide a contrast to the green leaf varieties.
      Taller species, such as fennel, should be planted at the back of a border, with lower ones such as thyme and parsley at the front or edge of a border or bed. It is also important to choose herbs for when you want your herb garden to be in bloom, taking into account whether they are annuals or biennials, which need to be sown again or replanted every year or two.
      Growing herbs in containers can have the advantage of being portable, enabling you to move them according to climatic conditions. With pots you also have the benefit of being able to use the right soil and water conditions for individual plants.
      Grown this way, many herbs used for cooking do particularly well. It is also ideal for maintaining the various mints, which can easily run rampant if left to their own devices.
      When choosing a container, take into account the size of the plant, making sure the space is deep enough to accommodate the roots, and that there is a hole in the bottom for drainage. Clay pots are better for herbs that require good drainage such as rosemary, while plastic or ceramic are better for plants that require moisture such as mint or basil.
      In pots, herbs exhaust the soil nutrients very quickly, particularly if used on a regular basis,and a liquid fertiliser should beused every six weeks. This also encourages re-growth.

Sweet smell of success

Iris Jardine talks to Roger Tabor, botanist, Chairman of The Herb Society and author of the book All about Herbs, which he wrote to commemorate the Society’s 75th anniversary.

Readers’ Offers

The Herb Society encourages the appreciation and use of herbs, and is an ideal source for anyone wanting to expand their knowledge in this area. They are offering MQ readers their first year’s membership for £17.50, a saving of £2.50 plus a further £2.50 for standing orders. Contact them on: 01295 768899 mentioning the MQ offer.
     Readers of MQ can also buy Roger’s very informative book All About Herbs, published by Frances Lincoln for £14.99, a saving of £5 to include free post and packaging (UK & N. Ireland only.) Ring 01235 400414, quoting ISBN: 07112 170 84; reference code: 46 MQRT.
Part of the magnificent gardens at Sulgrave Manor, Northamptonshire – home of The Herb Society

© Roger Tabor Picture Library