The wonderful world of herbs

Diane Peacock, gardening and chief sub-editor, pays a visit to Doonholm Herb Farm in Midrand, Jo’burg

A walkway of lavender and other fragrant plants leads to a series of interlinked herb gardens. 

Doonholm Nursery is a vast herb garden filled with over 450 types of plants. All of them (grown under the Healthy Living Herbs label), whether they’re trees, shrubs, groundcovers, climbers, annuals or succulents, have beneficial properties of one kind or another. It’s a fragrant, peaceful paradise and so vast, I can only mention a few examples.


A visit to the farm reveals the infinite qualities herbs possess and the variety of ways they can be used. The plants are divided into categories such as fragrant, insect-repelling, cooking, relaxing and medicinal.


Pincushion (Scabiosa caucasica)

The leaves and roots of this indigenous plant are used for medicinal purposes, one being that an ointment can be made from just the roots to treat wounds and skin ulcers.

The leaves of oregano are used in Italian, Greek and Mexican food, often dried rather than fresh to complement strongly flavoured dishes that contain garlic, chilli, tomatoes, olives, onion and wine.


Catmint, like lavender, is placed in the “relaxing fragrance” category. It’s also in the “tea herbs” and “medicinal herb” groups.

Cotton lavender (Santolina chamaecyparissus)

Cotton lavender isn’t a lavender at all, but is used to make a natural insect repellent spray and also eases insect bites. Dried, the leaves can be used as an insecticide. They’re a good companion plant for roses too.

Wilde als (African Wormwood)

Wilde als with its beautiful foliage is one of the most widely used traditional medicines in South Africa. It acts as a tonic, has anti-inflammatory properties, is an antiseptic and relieves gastro and intestinal ailments like indigestion, dyspepsia and colic. It can also be used as a disinfectant for cuts and grazes.

Globe artichokes

Artichokes not only make attractive plants with their intriguing bold shape and bright flowers, they’re delicious tasting and can be used in a number of ways as a medicinal herb.

Doonholm Nursery is a specialist wholesale grower but their products can be found in leading garden centres and nurseries in Gauteng, Limpopo, North West and parts of Mpumalanga.