MGs talk about gardening...
- Author: jannike petrovska
Published on: October 8, 2014
Mmmm mmm, I've always gone gaga over the heavenly aroma of fresh herbs. I can't resist passing by the edibles section of my Redlands Home Depot without pressing a basil leaf between my fingers to release the fragrance, or taking a whiff of the culinary rosemary. But herbs can also be beautiful plants with interesting textures and colors, and I have a great love for creating beautiful gardens. So I've been using herbs in big ways and small throughout the gardens at Humpty Dumpty House. Here are some things I've done:
Vertical Herb Garden: Fast food is a way of life, but gardeners find ways to make this a good thing. Like growing herbs right outside the kitchen door. If your space is limited, vertical gardening is another great convenience. Cheap and easy vertical herb gardens can be made by hanging old terra cotta pots, buckets, planting bags, or even recycled tin cans on a fence or wall. I'm leaving the creativity for you -- I took the easy route and bought a vertical planter that I call my "plant condo". I've used the plant condo to grow radishes, lettuces, and a variety of ornamentals. I like using the condo to start ornamentals from seeds. When the plants get big, I transplant them out in the gardens. But on a recent trek through Home Depot's plant department, the irresistible scent of the herbs sparked a different idea -- to use the condo for an herb garden. Bonnie Plants has such a huge variety, I could have planted every pocket of the condo with a different herb, and I almost did that. But I wanted to use the herbs for more than just eating. Since they have such vibrant colors and rich textures, I wanted to use the herbs to paint pretty pictures. The designer in me yearns for rhythm, balance, and a harmonious color story, but I also wanted the fragrances I go crazy for. Which are my favorites? Rosemary and basil, so thank goodness Home Depot had lots of varieties of basil. Texture is another way to engage the senses, and the herbs I selected are as much about texture as they are about aroma. Notice how the spiky dark green needles of the rosemary contrast with the slick, shiny rounded leaves of the lime green sweet basil. And how the fuzzy green spicy basil globes soften the whole composition. Since herbs need sharp drainage, I filled the condo with a good flower and vegetable potting mix, and created a pattern of dark green with purple-bronze and just enough chartreuse to add some punch. The picture at right above shows the newly-completed condo; in a few weeks this will be a lush feast for the eyes.
Herb Pond Garden: Humpty Dumpty House has a wickedly enchanting pond garden generously planted with herbs. Greek oregano, several varieties of thyme, parsley, mint, chives, chard, and other edibles skirt the garden at pond's edge. Some of the herbs are even grown in the pond and waterfall as aquatic plants. This picturesque garden is wonderfully aromatic, drought tolerant, easy-care, and provides plenty of food for families served by Humpty Dumpty House. If you're planning an ornamental garden, you may want to consider adding herbs to the mix.
Herb Borders: At Humpty Dumpty House food is grown in every garden. But all the gardens are ornamental, even the productive ones. I sneak in extra food by bordering walkways with pretty edibles. During the cool season I like to alternate deep burgundy and bright green lettuces along our garden paths. But this summer I'm using a mossy curled parsley with a flame-colored plume celosia, offering a visual feast as well as a culinary one at every step on the journey through the garden.
Herbs are easy, water thrifty, textural plants with fresh delicate fragrances, and they mingle well with many ornamental plants. There are tons of varieties that can be cheaply purchased at nurseries and big box garden centers everywhere. Should you wish to add herbs to an existing planting plan, or to create a new herb garden, first off, select the ones you enjoy eating. But also consider color, texture, and pattern if you'd like to paint a pretty picture with your plants.
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