The herb garden is in! FINALLY!! You know that Air Supply Song, “Making Love Out of Nothing At All”? I find myself singing it when out working on our little vine pile, but I keep saying, “making herbs out of honeysuckle hill.” It’s a stretch for those of you with any musical ability, but for me, I’ve turned a 6-inch deep mass of trumpet vine and honeysuckle into a nice little place to sit and listen to the birds, to snip some rosemary for chicken, or to pick a ripe passion fruit for dessert. Click any picture to see it larger.Visit my garden planner page if you want to see a detailed list of the herbs planted. I’ll update it as we plant more.
I LOVE herbs. They handle dry pots, wet soil, bright soil, and my tendency to forget about them. I’ve collected hundreds of them over the years. As we’ve moved and lost the sun, I’ve lost my herbs, but when we put in the veggie garden, I added some herbs, and I began again.
This year I decided to reclaim a little that nature has overtaken. The honeysuckle, trumpet vine, autumn olive, and goldenrod have held it long enough. After chopping and pulling vines (currently in a “drying pile” so we can burn it later) and cutting down a lot of autumn olive trees, we made space for the new herb garden. We covered the remaining vines with weed fabric, put in the fencing we brought with us from our last park, and added pots.
Then began the fun. I had hoped to use mulch around the plants and add a pebble path through the middle of the garden, but the uneven ground didn’t cooperate. Plus I know how slippery wet mulch can get. So we went with the pricier option of pebbles from the local big box store. We kept the mulch to cover the pots, to help conserve moisture, as well as to cover the weed fabric surrounding the outside of the fence.
Next we lugged out the clay pots from the potting shed. Quite a few suffered during moves, but we moved the majority over to the new garden. We also added four 2’x4′ boxes rescued from our veggie garden. (They were doublestacked and were to be used for carrots, but alas they never were.)
We found a nice obelisk at Natural Art Garden Center just up the road as a centerpiece, and we built a two-foot box around it. I planned either runner beans or passionflower to grow in the box, settling on passionflower.
We also brought an old wagon wheel out of the woods for the runner beans to climb. (Yes, I know beans are not herbs, but scarlet and painted lady runner beans are beautiful, so why not?) The livestock tanks were previously under our downspouts. When we replaced those with water barrels, we moved these to the shed. They are very rusty and have a lot of holes, which is perfect to allow drainage.
Now the real fun — adding the herbs.
My rule for the herb garden is that everything be edible. (I am definitely pushing it with the marigolds, but they’re pretty, and for now they’ll stay.)
So far this year I have visited:
- the above-mentioned Natural Art in Tom’s Brook,
- Debaggio’s Herbs in Chantilly,
- Fort Valley Nursery in Woodstock,
- Walter’s Greenhouse in Hardy (I can no longer find their website online),
- Kim’s Greenhouse in Broadway,
- Gabalot Gardens in Strasburg, and
- Mowry Orchard in Woodstock.
Almost every herb in the garden is from an independently owned nursery or greenhouse. I do have sweetmint, two fig trees, a peony, and leeks currently sitting in the garden that I picked up a big-box store, only because I could not find them at a nursery.
I still have a few more nurseries to try to fill in a few gaps. I love ornamental sages. The flowers are often edible, and the hummingbirds love them. I’m also looking for lavender bee balm / monarda. I can’t find it this year, and it’s so pretty.
I have tried to not spend too much on the herbs this year, but most of them are investments. If I have my way, I’ll take cuttings from all of the new herbs, try to overwinter the hardy plants, and we’ll enjoy many, many years with this year’s purchases.
We still need to cut back some of the autumn olive that overhangs the herb garden. It’s such a horribly invasive plant that we are working hard to eradicate along with the honeysuckle and trumpet vine. We found a few surprises as we cleared the hill.
The trumpet vine had overrun and pulled down a trellis/arbor. It was a simple three-ladder contraption that the vine pulled down over the years. We had no idea it was under the growth.
Another surprise about the trumpet vine? It was planted. I found the tag at the base on the arbor. If kept in check, I’m sure it was beautiful, but once it is allowed to spread, the game is lost. It’s a game we’ll fight for years to come, I’m sure.
Another surprise was under the honeysuckle. We found a small man-made pond! The had plastic liner appears undamaged, so we’ve cleaned it in the hopes of having a small water feature in the future.
We’ve had a lot of fun getting our herb garden together. I plan to eventually plant in the ground, but it may take a few years to eradicate the vines. Until then, the pots work, and I enjoy the time spent watering when needed. I look forward to many delicious meals in the future and all of the improvements I will make. Have I shared that I hope to put in an outside bread oven? Not sure hubby is onboard with that one yet, but we’ll work on it.
Oh, and that’s not a tombstone you see. It appears to be a concrete “pillar” created by pouring concrete into a cardboard box. The long side clearly shows “box flaps” folded in. I don’t know what we’ll do with it. Maybe use it to hold a pot or something.
Click any picture to see it larger.*** This personal blog is comprised solely of the opinions, views, projects, and travels of its author, Stacey Morgan Smith. She is lucky enough to have loving family and friends whom she drags along with her on her adventures and whom she puts to work on her little farm. She uses this blog to help promote living in the mountains of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, from Roanoke to the Potomac River.**