The Herb Garden

Did I mention that we had absolutely gorgeous weather last week during April vacation? One thing I love to do is to stroll around nurseries looking at all the plants they have, and it was a lovely week to do it. We don't need many flowers (although I still like to look), but I was on the hunt for the perennial herbs we have planned for the back row with the grapes. Although I was sad to find that my heretofore favorite nursery is shutting down, I found a great new (to me) nursery in Haverhill that might be my new first stop on future plant hunts. Cottage Gardens is a great little family-run place on the Haverhill/Merrimac line, and you should definitely check it out if you live in the area. They had lots of flowers, a solid culinary herb selection, and their prices are great. I quickly filled up a flat of four-inch pots, including … 

The basil and cilantro I mentioned before. These will give us something to munch on while we wait for the seeds to pop up and become harvestable plants as well. I'll plant these two herbs in succession for a continual late spring and summer harvest.

Here we have parsley: two flat leaf in the foreground and two curly leaf way down the row at the other end. Peas will be up on the trellis behind these in spring, and the rest of this row will hold other annual herbs grown from seed: chamomile, dill, fennel, and borage. Parsley sometimes overwinters, but it's not a sure thing, so we are treating it is an annual.

And here is the big herb row. In this photo I am standing in the center brick path looking down a 27-foot bed toward the swing set. From front to back are oregano, rosemary, thyme, sage, tarragon, mint, and chives. If you can picture in your mind turning around 180 degrees to face the other direction, you would see the same mirror-image row stretching down the other side of the garden. On the other side are some different varieties of some of the herbs: Greek oregano on one side and Italian on the other, for example. Not every spot is filled, so I will have to look around for some of the less common herbs we have planned for (like pennyroyal and lovage, for instance). But this is a great start.

Finally, along the garage I planted 14 sweet woodruff plants. This is one of my all-time favorites! It grows in shade, will spread to a ground cover it gets enough water, and it smells fantastic. We had them under hemlocks at the Red House, but I never really got to see them fill in as a ground cover. These are traditionally used in England as "strewing herbs" (thrown on the floor to be walked on to smell good and discourage pests) and in Germany as an ingredient in Maiwein, which we will have to try soon.


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