Thyme Tip-toeing With The Tulips

Thyme Tip-toeing With The Tulips
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Many of us come up with the grandest of aspirations for our garden during these bleakest times of the winter. We envision our landscape in the most vivid of green, with statuaries framed with drooping ivy, and stone walkways separating the veggies from the herbs and the perennials from the specimen shrubs. Unfortunately, reality eventually pulls our head out of the gardening magazines and back into our modern patio home. How can we have herb and veggie gardens like one of those vista landscapes in our little backyard?
If you are really craving to have herbs and vegetables in your landscape, fear not: there is hope for those of us with small yards. We will just have to bend the rules a bit. First, where is the rule that says that herbs and vegetables absolutely have to be separate from the rest of the landscape? Yes, some culinary plants aren't going to win a beauty prize anytime soon, but there are many herbs and veggies that can work as landscape plants as well as providing food and spices in the kitchen. By incorporating some culinary herbs and vegetables into the aesthetic part of your landscape, you can make your plants do two jobs at once, and in turn you will reap the benefits.

There are a few things to consider when adding culinary plants to your landscape. First, you want to consider the overall look of the plant. There are different shapes and sizes out there, and some work better than others. There are some herbs and vegetables that can be utilized as annuals, and others that can function as woody evergreen shrubs. Some examples that come to my mind are basil, an annual herb, and rosemary, a woody evergreen shrubby herb. There are other plants that can be used as groundcover (thyme, mint, lemongrass), foundation plants (Mexican bush sage, bay laurel, myrtle), and annual color (parsley, various basil cultivars, lemon verbena). There are many different varieties available, it's just a matter of finding the variety that appeals most to you and your garden.

Another aspect of herbs and veggies that we tend to forget about is their flowering characteristics. Some of these plants have gorgeous or fragrant flowers, and you can find a culinary plant blooming during most times of the year. Some examples of these are squash-like vines, rosemary (which blooms in the winter), sage, and garlic. Also, some of these flowers or even the leaves themselves can carry a fragrance that can spread throughout your garden, like pineapple sage, mint, bee balm, and oregano. Dependent on the plant, you can have a fragrance that ranges from a lemony-sweet smell to a more heavy, musky fragrance. By choosing herbs and vegetables for not only their culinary offerings, but for their flowers and fragrance as well, these plants will give that much more to your garden.

One last thing to consider when designing your mixed landscape is the cultural requirements of these herbs and vegetables. Though there are some exceptions, most of the plants in this category prefer to be in full sun for most of the day. Another good number of these plants are drought-tolerant, and even prefer less water to more. When working out which plant goes where, make sure that you place your culinary plants in the same bed areas as other plants that like the same conditions. This will make for easier maintenance and better plant survival down the road. Also, check the pH requirements for some of the herbs. There are a few that prefer a more alkaline soil, which, as a whole, is more hard to come by then acidic soil areas. If need be, you can create a separate bed area to showcase your alkaline-loving plants by amending the area with pH-increasing compounds.

Even in the smallest of yards, you can create a place for the vegetables and herbs that you desire for your kitchen with a little bit of forethought, planning, and preventative maintenance practices. And once all your preparation is done, you will have a gorgeous landscape that actually gives back to you in the form of fruits, vegetables, and spices. And, if you absolutely have to have it, you can set a small statuette in amongst the verbena and society garlic. Just try to keep it on the small side; it will make your garden look even more spacious.


About The Author

Carrie Paulk is a professional landscape designer with Turf Tamer, Inc. She has written many informative landscaping articles for Turf Tamer's Tip of the Week program. Want to learn more landscaping tips and tricks? Go to tm to sign up for the 'Tip of the Week' and learn more tips!

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