Garden Spaces: Plans for a Front-Step Garden

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Illustration by Gayle Ford

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• Basil (Ocimum basilicum): This annual culinary favorite comes in many forms. Try bright green ‘Genoa’ for making pesto.

• Bay laurel (Laurus nobilis): Bay laurel can be tree-sized when planted outdoors, but stays to 4 or 5 feet in a container. It can be trained into a standard (a single-trunk topiary that balloons at the top).

• Chives (Allium shoenoprasum): Chives reach 18 inches and have perky pink pom-pon flowers in the spring. They are useful in the kitchen and easy to tuck into any garden spot, even a pot.

• Ginger (Zingiber officinale): A tender perennial, this one requires some shade. Try rooting a piece of the rhizome sold in grocery stores. It will reach about 3 feet.

• Lavender (Lavandula spp.): There are many lavender varieties to choose from; if you grow English lavender (L. angustifolia) in your garden, try a more tender one, such as Spanish lavender (L. stoechas), in a pot. These grow to about 3 feet.

• Lemon verbena (Aloysia triphylla): This shrub can reach about 5 feet in a container. It has a delicious lemon fragrance and is worth the extra care it demands.

• Parsley (Petroselinum crispum): The familiar curly form of this biennial is cute in a pot hanging from a railing or combined with other herbs in a larger container. It gets 12 to 18 inches high. The flat-leaf Italian form is preferred for cooking.

• Peppermint (Mentha ×piperita): This vigorous grower is perfect for tea and flavoring candy. It reaches about 2 feet.

• Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis): This fragrant perennial can reach about 4 feet in a container, if protected during the coldest nights. If you want to shape it into a topiary, choose an upright rosemary such as ‘Tuscan Blue’ or ‘Gorizia’.

• Sage (Salvia officinalis): Garden sage grows to about 2 feet. Try a pretty variegated form, such as ‘Tri-color’ or ‘Berggarten’.

• Scented geranium (Pelargonium spp.): These tender perennials are a favorite among collectors and come in a wide array of fragrances, including rose, peppermint, lemon and nutmeg. They grow about 3 feet tall and can be trained for topiary.

• Society garlic (Tulbaghia violacea): Delicate lavender flowers dangle above strappy leaves that come in both green and variegated forms. They grow about 18 inches high and have a scent like garlic.

Kathleen Halloran, a former editor of The Herb Companion, is a freelance writer and editor who gardens in lovely Austin, Texas.

Click here for the main article,  Garden Spaces: Plant a Front-Step Garden .