Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Herb Garden Make-Over

The herb garden showing new life on 3 March, 2012.

The small space between the carport and the cellar stairwell was a weedy area when we
 moved here in 2010.
I did little with the space that first year, other than some half-hearted grubbing which revealed shallow gritty soil with the roots of the nearby box elder tree sending out woody tentacles just below the surface.
In March of 2011 after I had hacked and dug to exhaustion, I hired my Amish nieghbor, Delilah, to help finish the transformation of this plot into a small herb garden.
We finished excavating the soil down to a depth of about 15 inches, put down landscape fabric, and mixed some good 'dirt' in before replacing and leveling the soil.
I moved sage plants which had been over-whelmed in the perennial border, divided lemon thyme, and moved in some lemon balm I found growing at the side of the house.
I divided Lambs Ears and placed it in the center as a focal point and to contribute silver color amongst the shades of green.
Along the cement wall I planted ajuga, also moved from an over-grown existing planting along the carport.
A division of nepeta and a decorative oregano were placed in the dry back corner.
The only plants bought specifically for this venture were several small pots of creeping thyme and three starts of lavender vera.

1 April, 2012, taken after an early evening rain.

4 April, 2012.
Thyme has billowed over the edge of the planting onto the cement carport ramp.
Johnny-jump-ups [viola tricolor] have self-seeded here and there.

By 25 May it has become evident that  Lambs Ears has taken over the lower end of the garden, shading out the stepping stones and the creeping thyme in that area, crowding the sage plants.

Last week by the time I was free to do recreational gardening [as opposed to picking string beans, and weeding the veggies] I had decided that a number of overly vigorous plants needed to be removed.
When the worst of the days heat had seeped into the cooler temps of evening, I turned on the outside lights and proceeded to ruthlessly uproot Lambs Ears, and a towering nepeta, and gave the oregano and lemon balm a severe pruning.
I tore up mats of ajuga, replacing it with some starts of creeping thyme.
The Lambs Ears was surprisingly difficult to remove as the stems had sent invasive roots in every direction.
I placed two more small stepping stones where the Lambs Ears had larruped and set out several lavenders which I raised from seed.
Next spring I will locate some well-behaved silver thyme to plant in bare spots around the stones.
This little garden doesn't aspire to being an impressive collection of specimen plants.
It is a tiny homely space with some of my favorite herbs--handy by to touch and enjoy
their scents and forms.

The barrel planter at the back right corner of the herb garden is planted to kitchen herbs each spring.
Here are seedlings of Red Rubin basil, a large-leaved green basil and cilantro.
Future seasons may see such edging plants as seed-grown signet marigold, or pansy
tucked into any open space.


  1. Wow! I'm impressed. I have never had as nice an herb garden as this. Mine have always been small but kept me in fresh herbs for the season.

  2. Lamb's Lugs are pretty, but they do SPRAWL so. I have them at the back of the garden, where they can flop about to their heart's content.

    It sounds like you have had a good sort out of your herb plot anyway. The Ajuga is a devil for rioting away too. A bit like Mint!

    I am about to start some more Nepeta as the first plants got SO battered by over-enthusiastic cats. I shall have to grow them as Standards I think!

    You have the right idea about your herb patch - just plants you use, rather than ones that sounded good at the time and you end up just looking at! I've got a few of those.

  3. It must be a delight to wander through, brushing the leaves are releasing their aromas.

  4. Your herb garden looks so nice! I really need to make mine over. Everything is so overgrown. Your pictures shame me. So busy watering here, it is certainly dry!

  5. I love your herb garden.

  6. An herb garden is a must. yours is looking good.

  7. Great herb garden ...love the pot for spring herbs ...good idea. I love lemon tyme ...oregano ...and basil and try to grow them as they need to be fresh picked to be at their best.

  8. I love herb gardens and the pics of yours! It's nice that your herb garden is nearby and you can see it daily. Mine is down below in the garden and, truthfully, with all the company and rain, I'm past due visiting and harvesting!

  9. Herb gardens need a few seasons to sort themselves out. Yours is lovely with all the silver leafed plants, but I don`t blame you for moving the Lambs Ears. In our herb patches we seem to have invasions of mint and lemon balm, which smell good but will take over if you let them.

  10. Thank you all for the encouraging comments about the herb garden.
    I never expected the lemon balm to be quite so vigorous in spreading. Lambs Ears in my Vermont garden years ago was a very meek plant, nothing like the jostling giant which took over the herb patch.
    I am learning I need to be vigilant in cutting back certain plants to keep them in bounds.
    Delila gave me a plant of anise hyssop which I expected would self-sow--it disappeared over the winter, as did bee balm in the main perennial strip.
    Gardens are always full of surprises.