If you look at our longterm (needing to be updated again) master plan, you will notice that the entire front yard is designated "Herb Gardens." I made a serious analysis for this project, Planning The Herb Gardens, after our first summer here. That fall, we prepared two small beds....
I planted a few dye and medicinal plants in one, and some culinary herbs in the other. I planted petunias and zinnias as fillers. In an existing bed to the right of the front door, I planted echinacea purpurea, hollyhocks, and more zinnias.
Rudbeckia, calendula, petunias, & zinnias
The goal is no lawn, and our front yard is perfect for sun-loving herbs and perennials. However, when I try to visualize the entire front yard planted in herbs, small shrubs, and flowers, I can't see it. I, who have a squillion ideas when it comes to things like remodeling the bathroom or designing the kitchen, have been stumped.
|Butterfly weed, calendula, more petunias|
So what's the problem. I have herb books with lovely plans for small herb gardens; The New Encyclopedia of Herbs & Their Uses and The Complete Book of Herbs are two of my favorites for that. The library has numerous others. My front yard though, is huge, 45 by 108 feet plus. I could borrow ideas from various books and create a series of small gardens, but I couldn't visualize how to connect them as a whole.
The first break-through came from Edible Forest Gardens , I think it was volume 2, Ecological Design And Practice For Temperate-Climate Permaculture (the one that's missing from my library.) In creating permaculture pathways it said, one idea is to mimic the roots or branches of a tree, with smaller, narrower paths coming off of main ones. That appealed to me because I tend not to go for the formal, symmetrical look. Deciding on a main path around the garden may not seem like much, but it was a major first step for me.
|You can click to enlarge if you want|
The secondary paths which shape the beds will come off of this. Though I don't have all of that figured out yet, at least I have the backbone.
The second really helpful book I found (also at the library) was Ann Lovejoy's Organic Garden Design School. As I read it, I began to understand some of the problems I was having, and why it's harder to design a perennial garden than a room in a house.
When remodeling a room, one can experiment with picture or furniture arrangement. Color schemes revolve around a limited palette. A permanent garden however, is multi-dimensional, multi-seasonal, polychromatic, and changes as the plants grow. The final result isn't realized for a long time, and if the design isn't pleasing, it's no small task to change it.
|Rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano, lavender & pink petunias|
I've had haphazard looking flower and herb gardens in the past, and don't want another. As I've worked through the exercises in the back of Ann Lovejoy's book however, I find that I'm worrying less and enjoying the process more.
Slow progress on a project doesn't bother me, but a standstill does. I'm just relieved that it finally feels like we're getting somewhere, and I can move forward on the herb garden again.