Herb Garden Design with Essential Fruits and Vegetables 
Before planning an edible garden, think about the purpose of the garden first. These four window boxes were designed so that the client can easily open her windows and make a selection, or water everything from the convenience of her kitchen. We chose all my client’s favorite herbs and edible flowers: garlic chives, marigolds, parsley, several varieties of basil, creeping thyme, cilantro, and even a couple of strawberry plants.  
Some herbs are also “perennials” and will last year round, while others (like basil) are seasonal. Group seasonal items together so that they are easily replaced with something else once their growing season is complete. 
When replacing plants, don’t forget to replenish the soil, especially if you are planting in window boxes or containers. Valuable nutrients pass through containers quickly, so fresh soil amendments will ensure that the new plants get off to a great start. 
Theme gardens are popular right now. Consider grouping herbs and vegetables together in a raised bed for cooking purposes. If you love Asian cooking, you might want to grow lemongrass, Thai basil, Vietnamese coriander, Chinese eggplant, and dwarf pepper plants (like ‘Baby Belle’). A great way to introduce children to the concept of gardening is to grow something they will also consume. Create a “Lemonade Garden” with all the plants you might use to make fresh lemonade: pineapple mint, orange mint, basil, cucumbers, and lemongrass. Plant a Meyer lemon tree, dwarf blueberry bushes, and strawberries in containers to complete the Lemonade Garden. Don’t forget to make ice cubes with the blueberries and strawberries for the lemonade. 
Get creative. Did you know you can regrow many herbs and vegetables from your own garden, or re-root favorite edibles from the farmers market (celery and mint, for example)? Mother Earth Living provides a great how-to, HERE. Many of these can be started indoors on a sunny window ledge, and then transplanted outside after all danger of frost has passed. 

Herb Garden Design with Essential Fruits and Vegetables 

Before planning an edible garden, think about the purpose of the garden first. These four window boxes were designed so that the client can easily open her windows and make a selection, or water everything from the convenience of her kitchen. We chose all my client’s favorite herbs and edible flowers: garlic chives, marigolds, parsley, several varieties of basil, creeping thyme, cilantro, and even a couple of strawberry plants.  

Some herbs are also “perennials” and will last year round, while others (like basil) are seasonal. Group seasonal items together so that they are easily replaced with something else once their growing season is complete. 

When replacing plants, don’t forget to replenish the soil, especially if you are planting in window boxes or containers. Valuable nutrients pass through containers quickly, so fresh soil amendments will ensure that the new plants get off to a great start. 

Theme gardens are popular right now. Consider grouping herbs and vegetables together in a raised bed for cooking purposes. If you love Asian cooking, you might want to grow lemongrass, Thai basil, Vietnamese coriander, Chinese eggplant, and dwarf pepper plants (like ‘Baby Belle’). A great way to introduce children to the concept of gardening is to grow something they will also consume. Create a “Lemonade Garden” with all the plants you might use to make fresh lemonade: pineapple mint, orange mint, basil, cucumbers, and lemongrass. Plant a Meyer lemon tree, dwarf blueberry bushes, and strawberries in containers to complete the Lemonade Garden. Don’t forget to make ice cubes with the blueberries and strawberries for the lemonade. 

Get creative. Did you know you can regrow many herbs and vegetables from your own garden, or re-root favorite edibles from the farmers market (celery and mint, for example)? Mother Earth Living provides a great how-to, HERE. Many of these can be started indoors on a sunny window ledge, and then transplanted outside after all danger of frost has passed. 

Cardinal Flower, Lobelia cardinalis 

This North American native perennial blooms August through September on tall 3-4’ tall spikes. A member of the bellflower family (Campanulaceae), it grows best in part shade here in the south and thrives in wet soil, making it a good selection for naturalizing along stream beds and creeks. Because the leaves and fruit are poisonous (it contains alkaloids similar to those found in nicotine), it is not bothered by deer or rabbits, allowing it to grow and bloom freely in a woodland setting. The long red tubular flowers rely on hummingbirds for pollination, but it also attracts butterflies. Combine it with other wildflowers, perennials, and native plants for use in a wildlife habitat.  

The genus, Lobelia, was  named after the Flemish botanist, Matthias de L’Obel (1538-1616), and its species name cardinalis (Latin: “of a cardinal”) refers to the scarlet color of the cardinal bird. 

Whence is yonder flower so strangely bright?

  Would the sunset’s last reflected shine

Flame so red from that dead flush of light?

  Dark with passion is its lifted line,

Hot, alive, amid the falling night.

Dora Read Goodale—Cardinal Flower.

Illustration: Sydenham Edwards (1817) 

Last of the spring bling…. I’m loving the burgundy-burnished-copper-mahogany & green combination. This will be a repeat for next fall. Here in Georgia, we had just the right winter weather (finally) with enough cold temperatures to keep the flowers looking fresh, but not so chilly as to dispatch a soggy palette of wilted winter container color. We also had a very chilly March, so that prolonged our winter flower display this year….a joy to behold.
And in a just a few short days, I’ll be ripping all these containers apart to make room for their summer counterparts! 

Last of the spring bling…. I’m loving the burgundy-burnished-copper-mahogany & green combination. This will be a repeat for next fall. Here in Georgia, we had just the right winter weather (finally) with enough cold temperatures to keep the flowers looking fresh, but not so chilly as to dispatch a soggy palette of wilted winter container color. We also had a very chilly March, so that prolonged our winter flower display this year….a joy to behold.

And in a just a few short days, I’ll be ripping all these containers apart to make room for their summer counterparts! 

Winter Garden Foliage

Frigid winter temperatures doesn’t mean no color in the garden. Mix and match evergreens, perennials, and conifers for a luxurious winter tapestry. Many foliage plants thrive under chilly conditions ~ even snow and ice storms. Choose different textures and leaf forms for container gardens and place them near the front entry or friendship door where they will be seen throughout the winter. Keep planters evenly watered to prevent them from cracking during the constant freezing and thawing that occurs in winter months. 

Dicentra (Bleeding Heart)

Heart-shaped flowers droop from the arching stems in late spring on this shade-loving, woodland garden perennial. It is best used in combination with hostas, astilbe, and ferns, so that when the plant goes dormant after bloom, it has the cover of summer foliage to shield its die-back for the season. Deer and rabbits won’t eat the flowers or foliage, but hummingbirds are attracted to the flowers. 

The plant "Dicentra spectabilis" was re-named Lamprocapnos spectabilis in 2006, after a molecular examination of its genetic make-up determined that a nomenclature adjustment was in order. However, many people, including tradesmen, still use the name Dicentra. 

Dicentra (Bleeding Heart)

Heart-shaped flowers droop from the arching stems in late spring on this shade-loving, woodland garden perennial. It is best used in combination with hostas, astilbe, and ferns, so that when the plant goes dormant after bloom, it has the cover of summer foliage to shield its die-back for the season. Deer and rabbits won’t eat the flowers or foliage, but hummingbirds are attracted to the flowers. 

The plant "Dicentra spectabilis" was re-named Lamprocapnos spectabilis in 2006, after a molecular examination of its genetic make-up determined that a nomenclature adjustment was in order. However, many people, including tradesmen, still use the name Dicentra. 

2013 Perennial Plant of the Year
Perennial Plant of the Year™ has chosen one of my personal favorites this year: Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’ - more commonly known as Variegated Solomon’s Seal. It’s a drought tolerant perennial for shade, with the added attraction of fragrant flowers in spring. Because it is slow spreading, it works well as an understory ground cover in woodland gardens. Combine it with Hostas for a lovely, low-maintenance foliage garden. Read more….

2013 Perennial Plant of the Year

Perennial Plant of the Year™ has chosen one of my personal favorites this year: Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’ - more commonly known as Variegated Solomon’s Seal. It’s a drought tolerant perennial for shade, with the added attraction of fragrant flowers in spring. Because it is slow spreading, it works well as an understory ground cover in woodland gardens. Combine it with Hostas for a lovely, low-maintenance foliage garden. Read more….