I need help with designing my new Herb Garden!

dbannie04(8 TX)March 30, 2011

I am working on my new herb bed and I thought I would ask for some input! I have one SMALL herb bed now that has spearamint, peppermint, lemon mint, chocolate mint, basil, lemon blam, rosemary, and Texas sage.

This is the new herb bed:

I'm a newbie and need some suggestions of what I should plant. I have some mammoth dill, cilantro, and basil that I started from seed that I can plant. I am considering lavendar, ginger, and garlic (I know its the wrong time to plant). I like to use the herbs for cooking, but it also needs to look pretty because it is one of the first things you see when walking from my driveway to the back entrance of my house. I would like some plants that are unique and interesting. The bed faces south and will get sun most of the day until late afternoon.

I would also consider some other things beside herbs to help make it look pretty. I'm in zone 8- East TX. It gets pretty hot and dry in the summer (can be in the 100's for several weeks), but I'm going to do my best to keep it watered.

If it were your bed, how would you lay out the plants? I think I want to try to keep the taller plants in the back. Also I have several indian hawthorn plants that are looking ragged--they have been plagued with black spot and despite my best efforts are still somewhat infected:

AND:

Would you rip them out and replace them with something else? If so, what would you plant?

I still have to mortar in the bricks and add compost to enrich the soil. Hopefully I will be finished and ready to plant by this Friday afternoon.

I'm looking forward to your input and any suggestions/recommendations you may have. Thanks!

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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

How about parsley, chives, thyme, marjoram, oregano, and tarragon? I don't know your climate, and you didn't tell us the bed's exposure, so I don't know how happy some of these herbs will be. If you can find it, grow the prostrate rosemary (should be perennial in your climate, lucky you!) because most or all of the others will get too tall.

The mammoth dill will probably be too tall for this bed. [I just checked the height and saw everything from 30" to 5' -- but usually at least 3'.]

You can chop parsley, spread it thin on a piece of waxed paper on a pan or cookie sheet, freeze it, then store it in a freezer container. (Left in the freezer long enough, it does tend to solidify into a single mass, so you're better off putting it in multiple small freezer containers or bags.)

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 1:27AM
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karinl(BC Z8)

You will likely get more response to the details of planting your herbs on a forum dedicated to growing herbs, or maybe it is not a question anyone on a forum can really help you with. Trial and error is still a rite of passage in the internet age!

But with respect to the landscape plants that you have in that bed, what you have here is sort of a choice between form and function. Functional beds like vegetables are usually not in really visible spots because their purpose overrides their appearance, and to some extent the same is true of herbs. So if you want to grow herbs in this bed for use, they may or may not enhance the look of the bed. You will have to experiment to see which herbs look good and grow well in this setting. It depends on sun angles and soil, among other things.

Landscape plants like the shrubs you have there do outgrow their spaces after a while; that point usually being when you can't keep up with the pruning - their root mass is so big that it puts out an amount of new growth every year that you can't keep within the confines of the space. But one does not lightly remove established greenery because it may take ten years before you have something this substantial again.

I do think the hedge is providing a good backbone and I'm not sure I would remove it. At least, not yet. And when you do, you might actually want to just replace it with a new, smaller one. And it might be an easier transition to make once you have your herbs or other plants established. That said, be sure to consider access to those shrubs for pruning when you plant your herbs. Maybe some stepping stones in the bed would be good, and also help you space your herbs nicely (and help the soil retain moisture).

KarinL

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 3:09PM
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inkognito

I like the St Francis reference to Hortus Conclusus and this is where I would look for inspiration. I don't particularly like the bricks and shrub pruning is going to be a problem but that is just the down side of personal taste. You will also need to get in there to harvest your herbs so stepping stones would assist. I would favour an edge of lavender or rosemary to the bricks with a gap and stones leading to St Francis.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 3:30PM
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dbannie04(8 TX)

Thanks for the input! I think the stepping stone idea is great. I have some natural stone left over from my fire place and retaining wall that I think will work nicely.

I definately do not want to take out the boxwoods--they are thriving and I think they add to the old english herb garden effect I'm going for. The shrubery in question are the indian hawthorns growing under the windows. They are beautiful when they bloom, but I'm about ready to pull my hair out after unsuccessfully fighting the black spot. I've sprayed, raked infected leaves out etc. and still no cure. They do look a little better than they had, but still don't look stellar. I just have a hard time discarding anything that is still clinging to life haha! Maybe I should just rip the bandaid though...

I like the idea of a lavendar or rosemary border. My only concern is since the bed is by the driveway people may run over my plants! GRR! Would you try it anyway?

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 5:49PM
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nandina(8b)

Suggestions for this garden have been requested. Search on line for the fairly new organic fungicide Actinovate. Purchase a packet, follow instructions for mixing and spray infected Indian hawthorns using a hose end sprayer once a month, covering shrubs and ground beneath during the growing season. Excellent product with many fungicidal uses.

Mixed herb gardens are not always attractive as they go through various stages of growth and die back. If this were my upfront, welcoming garden I would plant a border of Teucrium chamaedrys which can easily be clipped into a low hedge. In the spring I would purchase flats of wax begonias in mixed colors and do a solid planting of these. Colorful and carefree. In the fall the begonias would be pulled to be replaced with a winter garden easily purchased at box stores; tall red mustards, colorful kales, Bright Light swiss chards, pansies, sow seeds of Arugula for winter/spring salads. Zone 8 winter gardens of this type are attractive, have interesting texture and produce some useful edibles. As to growing other types of herbs I just randomly plant them throughout my other flower gardens or in large containers which I move around to fill in bare spots as needed.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 9:33AM
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