Round Robin: Spooky Halloween Garden

Notes from Regional Herb Gardeners

| October/November 2002

ATLANTA, Georgia—Herb gardens come in all shapes and sizes. Some are planned to be beautiful year-round, from a dusting of winter snow outlining the knot garden through the fragrant bounty of summertime greens and silvers. Other herb gardens peak at one particular time of the year, often springtime, when many perennial herbs such as sages and lavenders are in bloom. English gardener Gertrude Jekyll favored the all-season approach, allowing different areas of a garden to bloom or rest at different times through the year.

In autumn, my thoughts turn to the fall holidays, and I was thinking with glee of what I might try growing in a “Halloween Garden.” First, of course, would be pumpkins (Cucurbita maxima). Perhaps the small white variety called ‘Casper’ would be a good choice. The silver artemisias would hold a prominent place in this garden: Old man (Artemisia abrotanum, also known as southernwood), old woman (A. stelleriana), and white mugwort (A. lactiflora) are suitably ghostly. To represent black cats, I’d be sure to include cattail (Typha latifolia) in a wet spot in my garden, and moonflower vine (Ipomoea alba) seems a logical addition to grow on my trellis.

Surrounding the spooky Halloween Garden would be the fall-blooming witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana). Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius ‘Moonlight’) might be a good addition, and other appropriate shrubs to include in the background are witch-hobble (Viburnum lantanoides) and candleberry (Myrica pensylvanica), also known as bayberry.

Two additional plants perfectly in keeping with the Halloween theme are both rare tropicals a bit too extreme for my garden. The extremely rare Dracula orchid (Dracula vampira) and the surrealistic, dark maroon-black flower of bat plant (Tacca integrifolia) are Halloween plants of the first order.

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