Gardens Ablaze

Landscaping with Herbs
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Unfortunately, most of us tend to think of herbs as plants for the windowsill, back garden, vegetable garden, or as stand-alone grouped plantings, as in English herb gardens. The truth is, herbs are very versatile plants that can be used as Ground Covers, fillers, additions to ornamental flower gardens, and along walkways and pathways for their fragrance as you brush against them.  When used in these ways, they can be harvested at will for their culinary and medicinal benefits.  People with small plots of land would be well advised to use herbs generously in their landscapes to benefit from ALL the properties of herbs - ornamental, culinary, fragrant, and medicinal. Remember the definition of the word Herb as being a useful plant.

For edging pathways and walkways, try Scented Geraniums  for their quaint beauty, or Lamb's Ears for a more refined, grayish look.  Parsley makes a nice front-of-the border green plant for flower gardens, as do Chives with their grass-like looks and cheery flowers. 

In the perennial garden, plant any of the Basils during the summer as fillers, and for winter interest, plant Silver King Artemisia, which has lovely silvery foliage and withstands the cold admirably.  Also consider Beebalm, Yarrow, Garlic Chives, Sage, Feverfew, Rue, and Foxglove when considering plants for the mixed border.

Many of the herbs serve as useful and fragrant ground covers in shade where nothing else does well.  Try Sweet Woodruff, scented Pennyroyal, Chamomile, or Violets.  These can be used instead of the usual ivy or pachysandra.  Also try Angelica, Lemon Balm, Evening Primrose, Valerian, Chervil, Goldenseal, or Lungwort to add texture and color.   For a full-sun groundcover, try Bearberry.

In the vegetable garden, many of the herbs also serve as Companion Plants.  You should try not to plant any of the perennials in spaces that you are going to till on a regular basis, so check out the Annual and Biennial Herb sections of this page for reasonable choices.  For the Perennial Herbs, choose sites in the garden where other Perennials are growing for a continuous show. 

Herbs can be used as ground covers.  The Mints and Chamomiles are legendary for their abilities to take root and cover an area as fragrant ground covers.  Be sure that you have some kind of barrier to keep them within their bounds.  Creeping Thymes are wonderful for filling in between stepping stones, and release their fragrances when stepped upon. 

For covering bare walls, Rosemary is a favorite that smells wonderful and easily cascades over the structure. 

As a screen, Fennel makes a feathery and useful plant, as do some some of the ornamental salvias.  Try nasturtium in the vine form for a peppery treat in the kitchen, as well as a good-looking annual screening plant. 

I know that some of these herbs are hard to find at the local home center or department store.  But seeds can be ordered through many sources on the internet, which is a great thing.  Check out some of the vendors on the left to get your seeds for next year.  Some of these herbs have to be planted in the fall for a spring crop.  Regardless, now is the time to order the catalogs so that you will be prepared for the spring rush.  There are also vendors in the Herb Pages on this site, and in the Gardening Section of the Gift Store.  Please feel free to browse, and be sure to Bookmark this site, as new information is added daily.


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