| October/November 2004

Design with Herbs

My herbs grow well enough, but they are not particularly pretty. How can I redesign my garden so it looks as good as it tastes and smells?


Most herbs earn their places based on usefulness rather than looks, but this does not mean that an herb garden can’t be beautiful. Borrow a few ideas from flower garden design to create an herb garden that pleases all of your senses.

First, let’s consider a few practical points. Culinary herbs, in particular, need to be accessible because you shouldn’t have to tiptoe among other plants each time you want a few snips of basil or parsley. Edges are always the easiest places to reach, so the more edges you have, the better. This is one of the reasons why long, border-type gardens are so popular. Circular gardens are fun, too, with edges inside the circle as well as along its rim.

The precise shape doesn’t matter, but in the interest of neatness, all edges should be well defined. This can be done with plants, brick, stone, wood or low panels of hand-made wattle (slender green sticks woven between upright posts).

In a border viewed from one side, short or mound-forming plants should go in the front, with taller ones in the rear, so the plants are stacked into layers according to height. If the bed is more than 4 feet deep, include steppingstones inside the bed so you’ll be able to move around freely between your plants. In a round, square or rectangular garden, place the tallest plants in the center.

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