Growing Herbs for Beauty and Flavor

Herbs and spices have been used since ancient times for a variety of purposes. The Sumerians used laurel (Laurus nobilis), caraway (Carum carvi), thyme (Thymus vulgaris), onion (Allium cepa) and garlic (Allium sativum) to enhance the flavor of dishes and to help preserve food. Egyptians used garlic and mint (Mentha) along with many other plants for medicine, religious purposes, and in embalming. Greeks and Romans expanded the use of herbs to include them in the development of cosmetics, dyes, perfumes and air purifiers.

The written record of herbal use centers mostly on medicinal purposes. In fact, herbal medicine was so important among ancient cultures that one of the first books ever printed after the invention of the printing press was De materia medica, meaning On medical material, a five-volume work by Pedanius Dioscorides, a Greek physician in the Roman army written between 50 and 70 CE.

The use of herbs for all these purposes continues today with basil, thyme, rosemary, marjoram, oregano, parsley, dill, fennel, cilantro among the many that are staples in kitchens worldwide. This booklist includes many titles on growing and using herbs for different purposes.

To learn more about cultivating herbs, the Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County will give a workshop titled “Growing Herbs for Beauty and Flavor” on Saturday, November 7 at 3 PM. To participate, please register and you will receive an email with the link to the Zoom login before the presentation. Registration closes November 6 at 6 pm.

Not familiar with Zoom? Click HERE to learn how to join a Zoom meeting.


Herbs (Botany). By: Hardin, Joyce M., Salem Press Encyclopedia of Science, 2019. Database:Research Starters. Accessed 26 Oct 2020.

Square foot garden showing different species of lettuce, herbs and vegetables in wooden box.. Photograph. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 26 Mar 2018. Accessed 26 Oct 2020.