I’ve always loved herb gardens but have never previously had the right garden to grow one.
Two years ago we moved into an 1860s workmens’ terrace that was built with decent sized – by London standards – sunny front gardens in which the original residents could grow veg, herbs & flowers, cottage style.
Finally, the ideal setting for my dream garden.
Before we could get started we had to dig up the whole lot to repair the damage that 150 years of tree growth and some very near miss WW2 bombs had done to the drains.
As the street is built on an old marsh and we have an underground river – that pops up every now and again – at the end of it, drains are something we take seriously around here 🙂
But as all best laid plans must go to waste as soon as we started digging last spring, the rain started. And it rained and rained and rained for 3 months none stop. In the end I just had to get out there in the rain and plant what I could, where I could.And so it’s through luck rather than judgement … and a lot of lessons learnt … that we are now something close to my original dream if not my plan.
Regular blog readers will know I NEVER do before and after photos … firstly, because my photography skills are rubbish and secondly, because I rarely have an “after” to brag about.
But on this occasion I really am just that little bit proud of what I have achieved and so here … with the help of my sister’s camera … are my before and after photos plus a list (of course) of my top tips for starting a herb garden.
The garden in May 2012 …
My dream herb garden in July 2013 packed full of lavender, rosemary, thyme, tarragon, chives, oregano, chamomile and mint plus chard, spring onions, poppies, campanula, honeysuckle, cow parsley and at least a few plants I can no longer remember the name of …
- Lavender & rosemary give year round structure … be patient whilst they grow
- They both grow well from cuttings – beg them off friends with healthy plants
- Prune lavender flower stalks and an inch of growth at end of summer
- If you forget at the end of the summer you can prune in spring
- Prune rosemary well late summer & tidy in spring
- Watch out for rosemary beetles … look pretty but destroy rosemary & lavender!
- Mint is a useful filler whilst establishing garden but thin rigorously
- You can split mint, thyme and oregano at end of summer to distribute plants
- Cut back chamomile, oregano & thyme after flowering to encourage growth
- Chives are cheap & easy to grow and their pretty flowers attract bees
- Basil, coriander & parsley are easy to grow from seeds
- Be relaxed about weeds … a few nettles are good for bees & butterflies
- Leave some random spaces for growing attractive veg e.g. chard
- Collect poppy heads from anyone whose got them & scatter seeds for colour
- Fox gloves are pretty but if self seed remove them as dangerous amongst herbs
- Mix in some tall stuff such as fennel or chamomile
- Most herbs won’t flower until June so do plant some bulbs for spring colour