This last month has brought remarkable changes to our herb gardens, and a terrific lightning storm came in over the forest. Our cottage herb garden has been a learning process over the years. What started as a long slender bed, changed to a shorter stouter bed, and now this large triangular masterpiece and the adjacent gardens.
Near the deck on the back of the house was the best place to put our newly planned beds - a Mediterranean garden, a Mexican garden and a Kitchen Cottage Herb garden. We laid down a layer of cardboard in the appropriate areas and covered those with a thick layer of wood chips. We planted our first gardens right through the cardboard. It wasn't very much to look at but as time went on, the cardboard decomposed and added to the fertility and the wood chips rotted, too. We outlined our first path.
We found that the long garden I had first envisioned wasn't going to be feasible due to water run off at the very end. Water is a huge element of this hillside farm and a lot of thought goes into channeling it around features of the landscape. The long herb garden was a bust. No room to walk and no way to keep the water from washing out the bed. So, we shortened it a lot and outlined a cottage garden with stones.
We planted it with a large selection of flowers and herbs all willy-nilly because I really didn't know how all of it would interact and there was a lot of experimentation going on. The cottage garden did work, though and we harvested herbs from it all summer and the flowers were bright and cheery! However, I could see that it would simply not fulfill my inner vision of a formal herb garden.
This year, we completely reworked it to be a formal herb garden and we quadrupled it in size and made it this large triangular garden. We'll plant medicinal herbs and gorgeous flowers here. It will be a profusion of blossoms and a riot of color. I can't wait to see the results of our hard work. First we tilled out the new area and then set rock boundaries for it. Rock is used to line all the gardens at Windy Thistle, so much so that it's been suggested that we renamed the farm Stony Thistle. But no.
We also created two other herb beds but really didn't know what would be best to put there, either. We planted one bed with basil but it didn't like the area and grew poorly there. Another area was planted with hot peppers and cilantro and turned out that the peppers really loved it but the cilantro bolted very quickly. We switched around the Mexican Garden, too. I will plant hot peppers on the sunny side but shy shade loving Cilantro on the shady side, along with other herbs commonly used in Mexican cuisine. The first year it was pretty pitiful and last year, it also didn't want to let the Basil grow so this year, hardier plants, along with a flower border will make this garden pop!
This year, we'll be switching it around. It turns out that area we're devoting to the Mediterranean Garden has a few features of the Mediterranean Climate - it's a hot dry corner of the yard, up against a bright stone and brick wall and is sheltered from the wind by the house and the deck with full sun most of the day. We doubled the size of this garden to a large triangle abutting the cobblestone walk. It's all torn up right now but we will be planting French herbs there. Some will be perennials that we hope to see come back year after year like Rosemary. She'll grow here, if we shelter her adequately over the winter and this little corner is ideal for that.
Missouri has some grand thunderstorms in the springtime. On the night of the Full Worm Moon, we got a shelf cloud full of lightning. It gave us a beautiful light show as it came in and a shot of the moon through the fork of the walnut tree just begged us to take a video from our deep covered front porch. As Grandgirl #2 says at the end, "It's so cool!"
How does YOUR garden grow? Let me know in the comments. I love to know what is on your mind.