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Create an All-Season Herb Garden: All-Season Herb Border

By Barbara Pleasant
December/January 2008
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Use the plan above as a starting point, but fine tune it to suit your tastes and desires. Substitute more culinary herbs for the fragrant ones, or perhaps add nasturtiums or calendulas for bold splashes of summer color. Include plants that fill out the “shoulder” seasons of early spring and fall, and you will be on your way to a beautiful, all-season herb garden.

This 4-by-20-foot bed is anchored by a native viburnum, which holds fruit on twiggy branches until winter birds gather them for breakfast. Perky Johnny-jump-ups usher in spring, and the parade of flowers, fragrances and flavors lasts until ice takes down the last dried spikes of anise hyssop.

Rear tier, left to right

1 Lavender ‘Provence’ 
(Lavandula xintermedia) 30-36 inches; Zones 5-9; fragrant blue spikes July to August 

1 Catmint ‘Walker’s Low’
(Nepeta hybrid) 24-30 inches; Zones 4-9; lavender-blue blooms May to September

1 Apothecary rose 
(Rosa gallica) 3-4 feet; Zones 4-8; fragrant, deep pink flowers late spring

1 Valerian
 
(Valeriana officinalis) 3-5 feet; Zones 4-10; pink-white blooms June to August

1 Wormwood ‘Powis Castle’ 
(Artemisia hybrid) 2-3 feet; Zones 5-9; aromatic silver foliage spring to fall

1 Anise hyssop ‘Blue Fortune’
(Agastache foeniculum) 2-3 feet; Zones 4-9; lavender-blue spikes July to September

1 Bee balm ‘Claire Grace’ 
(Monarda fistulosa) 2-4 feet; Zones 4-9; purple-blue blooms early summer to fall

1 American cranberry bush
‘Bailey Compact’ (Viburnum opulus var. americana) 5-6 feet; Zones 4-8; white flowers in spring, scarlet fruits fall to winter   

Front tier, left to right  

1 Genovese basil 
(Ocimum basilicum) 2 feet; grown as an annual; spicy, aromatic leaves through summer, white blooms midsummer

1 ‘Red Rubin’ basil 
(Ocimum basilicum) 15-24 inches; grown as an annual in all zones; spicy red leaves, pink blooms midsummer

1 Lemon basil
(Ocimum basilicum) 2-3 feet; all zones; spicy leaves hint of lemon; white blooms midsummer

1 Rosemary ‘Hill Hardy’ 
(Rosmarinus officinalis) 2-4 feet; Zones 6-10; light-blue bloom spikes in late winter, evergreen where hardy

6 Johnny-jump-up
(Viola tricolor) 6-8 inches; all zones; edible flowers of mixed colors early spring to fall

3 Lamb’s-ears 
(Stachys byzantina) 12-18 inches; Zones 4-7; soft gray foliage spring to fall, purple-flowered spikes in midsummer

3 Curly parsley 
(Petroselinum crispum) 10 inches; grown as an annual in all zones; bright green, finely cut leaves summer to fall

2 English thyme
(Thymus vulgaris) 8 inches; Zones 5-8; fragrant and spicy green leaves, tiny white flowers

1 Variegated pineapple mint 
(Mentha suaveolens) 12-18 inches; Zones 4-9; flavorful foliage, white flowers late summer

1 Peppermint
(Mentha ×piperita) 2 feet; Zones 4-9; flavorful foliage, lavender blooms late summer

1 Garden sage 
(Salvia officinalis) 2 feet; Zones 5-8; gray-green leaves, blue bloom spikes early to midsummer  

3 Chives 
(Allium schoenoprasum) 10-18 inches; Zones 3-9; grassy foliage, purple-pink flowers in late spring ❦

Barbara Pleasant is a contributing editor to The Herb Companion and author of several books about gardening, including The Whole Herb (Square One, 2004). She writes and gardens at her home in Virginia.


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