Friday 10 April 2009

Our Garden; A History (Part 2)

Creating a Herb Patch
This was one of the first things we did in the garden as it was a quick transformation to carry out. The flower bed closest to the house separates the patio area from the lawn. Accessing it doesn't involve getting muddy shoes and it is big enough to grow a good selection of culinary herbs.

It was the summer of 2007 when we made a start. After digging out the overgrown shrubs and weeds that had taken root since we moved in, we widened the bed to allow for two rows of herbs. We then chose a selection of herbs, based mainly on how much we would use them in the kitchen and a little bit on how pretty they would look in the garden.

Then we planned the location of each herb within the bed, based on how well they grow together and how large they would ultimately grow. The larger ones we placed at the back in the middle, gradually getting smaller as we worked outwards and forward. The finished bed has some sort of symmetry and looks pretty good.

We bought a lot of our plants from the garden centre but did acquire some from Garden Dad's parents and in hindsight we should have made more effort to acquire cuttings. In the future we will either take cuttings from our own selection or ask around.

So what did we plant?

Lavender; (English and French) I chose these because they add a bit of colour, look pretty and attract bees and butterflies. I am also looking forward to using the leaves for making perfume with Garden Girl. I did have to persuade Garden Dad that they counted as culinary herbs, but I managed to fish out a lavender biscuit recipe which I promised to make and he was convinced. If he reads this he will no doubt remind me of this promise, as I have yet to make good on it, but my Little Garden Helpers will both enjoy making the biscuits so I really should fish it out again.

Rosemary; Easy to grow and used frequently in our kitchen. We were given a lovely large cutting from Garden Dad's parents which has flourished.

Mint; Two varieties. We planted these on the edge of the herb bed, as I had read somewhere that they repel ants, which have always been a problem in our garden. We thought if they were beside the path it might help keep them away from the patio. They did stay away from the mint but not from the garden. Unfortuantely though, both the mint plants were devastated last year with a pest we failed to recognise so this year we have dug up the twiggy remains and binned them. We will have to start again with these.

Oregano, Marjarom and Thyme; We had large cuttings of these from Garden Dad's parents which have all done very well. We use these in the kitchen a lot and we will be taking our own cuttings of the oregano and marjoram to enable us to grow more.

Sage; a few varieties as they look nice (paricularly the varigated varieties) and have lovely flavour. They have grown a lot though and are now starting to suffocate some of the other herbs so we will have to cut these back this year.

Lemon Balm and Tarragon; We only planted these last year and we don't use them frequently in the kitchen but they do make a nice change every now and then and have different plant shapes to the other herbs so also adds variety to the herb patch.

In terms of companion planting we made sure to put the Rosemary and Thyme together, as well as the Lavender, Marjarom and Oregano. This year we will also try to interplant some of the herbs with the vegetables as they make great companion plants.

Garden Girl was hugely interested in the herbs in 2007 and this has continued. She loved to pick the leaves and sniff all the different smells. Last year, when she was that much older, she loved to be in charge of collecting the herbs for our dinner. I would send her outside with a bowl and she would proudly come back in with her own selection, rinse them in a bowl of water and present them to me for chopping. Garden Boy has already started to enjoy picking the herbs this spring, though he prefers to go straight for the tasting, rather than savouring the smells! As the herb bed is slightly raised from the patio it is also a great height for my Little Garden Helpers to help with the weeding which Garden Girl loves to do and I won't be discouraging her any time soon!


  1. Great to see that you are helping to raise the next generation of gardeners! My daughter wore little bucket hats like the one in your top photo, so cute. Takes me back to that time... She loves to taste herbs out of the garden too. I haven't put her in charge of harvesting yet, but did get her some plastic shears that she can't cut herself on that might work for soft-stem stuff like parsley and basil. She even loves to eat lavender flowers fresh off the bush, go figure! You planted a great selection, what a delight to have all of that stuff at hand for cooking or even just enjoying visually. Congrats! - Karen

  2. So you have helpers ... Cute! Children ought to be taught to love gardening. You're lucky!

  3. Special request from Garden Dad's parents: will Garden Girl and Garden Mum be kind enough to root some new cuttings of Marjoram, Oregano and Thyme. The small plants they brought from their old house have died over the winter and fresh supplies will be gratefully received for their new garden. xxx