My Quirky Outdoor Herb Garden

An outdoor herb garden was kind of pre-planned but only with a few criteria in mind. One, how to go about protecting it from a particular kind of consumer and two, attract creatures that are herb friendly and in need of a helping hand to survive in our man made environment.

Outdoor herb garden

Some might think my method is a crazy, haphazard way to go about planning a garden. Not professional at all! Yes maybe but I am not a professional and a lot of interesting things happen from doing it that way. Discovering new things about herb plants and the creatures that visit them make it much more self-satisfying as a hobby and I do at times fall back on the written chronicles of the professionals for guidance when things go horribly wrong.

An Outdoor Herb Garden for You
And The Bees

Bee on blue Borage flower

Bees need our help to survive as we need theirs! Not-so-familiar borage is a herb with a delightful tiny flower that is star-shaped. The bees love it. We love it. You can eat the whole of the plant apart from the roots. To us the leaves, stems, and flowers in a salad taste great but the snails hate it! No not the salad, the borage. It's too hairy and tough to get their chops around so it was a definite choice for me. The tiny flowers are a pretty sky blue or white.

One of the problems I encountered was that borage needs a bit of shade if your garden is in full sun all day, yet the instructions on the seed packet was that it liked full sun. I had to run around the garden like a mad chicken with the pot looking for a shady spot during this extra hot summer in the UK. On normal summer days it could stay put so those instructions on the seed packet were not exactly accurate.

The chilli peppers planted in the outdoor herb garden are also a great attraction for the bees. Visiting bees literally get dusted with a lot of pollen from the small greenish-white flowers and so produced lovely bright red chilli peppers of a good size too. I love spicy hot food. Jerk chicken is definitely on the menu this summer!

A tall blue-flowering perennial, Giant Hyssop was planted and placed at the back of the garden in a large pot which should have bloomed in late summer because they were planted late spring. They didn`t do too well at all! Later in the autumn the sun failed to hit that part of the garden so the damp shadowy environment just encouraged powdery mildew which covered all the leaves and eventually they had to go before it took a hold on the whole garden.

One solution to solving this problem is to move pots around frequently so the herbs in them get a good share of bathing in warm sunshine. Maybe put some mirrors in place where they will reflect sun into those dark musty corners.

Lavender is one of my favourite herbs. So you guessed! I planted a full row of them around the inside of a large raised, walled bed.

Originally as a rock garden, is wasn`t exactly level. In fact, it sloped, so the water ran from the higher end to the lower. Now the lavender plants at the higher end had grown larger than those at the lower end. Well as we know, herbs including lavender don't like sitting in water. They thrive in well drained soil.

The solution? Fill up the lower end of the garden with more soil and compost. The other plants are catching up now.

The Outdoor Herb Garden
With Mini Pond

Mini pond with ceramic frog ornament

I always wanted a pond but not the work associated with a reasonably sized one. Anyway, there isn`t enough space for a big pond, only a teeny weeny one.

The advantages of having a mini pond is that you only need a small body of water to attract friendly pond creatures like frogs, toads and newts that keep the snails at bay and the pond itself is a nice little feature where at times you will catch sight of a visiting damsel or dragonfly and where you can grow herbs such as Watercress or Pennywort (Gotu kola).

Outdoor Herb Garden Vines

I have 4 vines growing in the herb garden 2 are non-herbal clematis flowers because I love bright bold coloured flowers and the other 2 are a Passion flower and a Jasmine. I inherited the Jasmine along with the plot which my hubby kindly handed over to me.

What you need to keep in mind is that vines need containing. A lot of pruning is involved if you don't want them to travel far distances, grabbing onto everything in close vicinity.

The inherited Jasmine was wild, and I mean wild! I did not want to cut it right back to the ground as it takes 2 to 3 years to flower again so basically got rid of the lower branches, pruned the top and bound the hard wood at the base together to gradually bring them in a bit, an idea that just might work.

Problem was, there was no information to be found on anyone who had tried out my idea in any shape or form, but I went ahead and tried it anyway. With the use of a leather waist belt I bound and pulled the hard base wood tighter a little at a time over the months and voila! It worked! The base of the vine is now teased into a basket shape which can now hold a pot of creeping thyme or something similar.

As for the more common herbs in my garden. Lemon Thyme, Red creeping Thyme, St. John's Wort, Nasturtium, Lemon Basil, and rock cress. They will be discussed on a page of their own.

Outdoors On The Patio

I inherited a small patio where my herbs have also taken root! Excuse the pun!

This area is still undergoing transformation. But I have in my mind's eye what I really would like to do with it. There is no end to the combination of styles for a herb garden on the patio so to switch on your creative brain cells I have put together how you could go about planning what you want.

Herb Garden Greenhouse

If you have the space for it, a greenhouse is a vital piece of kit for any outdoor herb garden. Come Autumn you will be moving the tenderest of herbs in there to protect them from the cold frosty months ahead.

The modern greenhouse consists of safety glazing made of polycarbonate making them light in weight but still in need of anchoring to the ground or an adjacent solid structure.

It is relatively easy to construct a greenhouse and with the help of a friend and a good salesman it will be up in a jiffy!

Keeping it tidy and clean are a must to protect against disease and bug infestations. That can be quite hard to maintain in a small space so good organizing is the key.

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