The best time to gather or maintain herbs is actually at night, particularly with the more succulent varieties, as this allows you to pinch off sections as needed, water without causing scorching, and inspecting for snails and slugs.
Most herb gardens incorporate both edible and medicinal herbs with flowers and plants which have no other use except to act as a chemical defense against insects. Mixed and combination planting is encouraged, and it is for this reason that a herb garden may show off roses and garlic bulbs growing together. This practice is called companion planting and works successfully to protect both plants from predation.
Small scale cottage gardening works best when incorporating permaculture projects. Most manor houses or estates had the capacity to be self sustaining and generally contained an orchard, a herb/physiks garden, kitchen garden, and nursery. The idea of space dedicated soley to flowers surely would have confused most head gardeners.
Obviously over the years the type and quality of plant species for available cultivation to the various social castes has changed over the years; for example, chickweed and tulips. Chickweed was grown as a nervous tonic for caged birds and the roots turned into stew stock for nutritionally deprived children. Tulips on the other hand completely upset the Dutch economy, with literal fortunes spent trying to breed selectively for color and shape.
Most succulent herbs give off a delicious essential oil compound when bruised. Cats cannot break these down, please be cautious as these same compounds are used to signal distress and often act as insect or animal repellent when released by the plant.
Growing dense top covering such as Lamb’s Ear or impatiens, hostas, chickweed, etc., will help protect the soil from erosion and add to the esthethic impact. A particularly lovely pattern for a garden is a herb with aromatic essential oils when crushed, growing out of a crushed brick and stone path. There are several mosses which would be well suited for this.
Containers can literally be anything from tablecloths dipped in concrete and hung to shape to a boot with a solar lamp depending on skill, space, and motivation level. Waist-high gardening boxes made from wood and straw allow for easy reaching and reduces effort. Some arrangements allow for supports to be built in.
Using recycled packaging allows you to insert some greenery into all sorts of unusual places, and leads to creative solutions to various gardening challenges.
Along with planting with sun and water tolerance in mind, aesthetics should be considered. Do you want nice orderly boxes of salad plants at waist height or do you want to walk a labyrinth to reach your spinach? How much physical maintenance are you capable of? Is this for enjoyment, personal ease, or storage?
Embedding copper and or zinc wiring near the plants will help protect them from slugs and snails.