GARDEN GURU: I’m on a bit of a mint mission at the moment – it seems the perfect summer herb – fresh, vibrant and so very adaptable. I love it with strawberries, peas, tabbouleh, new potatoes and if you’ve never tried a mint julep you’re in for a treat. It’s also wonderful freshly picked and steeped in boiling water as a tea. There are so many different types that it can become a bit of a collecting obsession – see our blog for herb queen Jekka McVicar’s top ten. A bit late in the season? – don’t worry, you’ll still be able to pick up plants in a garden centre.
Growing: Mint has ambitions to be ground cover. It’s easier to grow than to eradicate, so always plant with roots restricted, either in a container or pot plunged into the ground. It makes an excellent companion plant as it deters pests, including whitefly, ants and mice, and the flowers attract bees, butterflies and hoverflies. It grows well in any soil, but prefers its roots in shade with the sun on its leaves and likes moisture – you’ll see the leaves become limp quite quickly but it also recovers quickly too.
Queen of all herbs, Jekka McVicar, recommends the following:
Spearmint (Mentha spicata) is the best garden mint, especially with peas.
Apple Mint (Mentha suaveolens) for mint jelly.
Eau de Cologne (Mentha x piperita f. citrata) for a refreshing bath.
Swiss Mint (Mentha spicata), excellent in teas.
Buddleia Mint (Mentha longifolia) for arrangements and attracting butterflies.
Upright Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium) repels flies and ants.
Black Mitcham Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) as a digestive tea or inhalation.
Chocolate Peppermint (Mentha x piperita f. citrate) for chocolate mousse.
Moroccan Mint (Mentha spicata var. crispa) for teas and mojitos.
Basil Mint (Mentha x piperita f. citrata) for strawberries – with balsamic vinegar.