Garden Planning is Key

AlmanacPlanning a garden is a laudable endeavor, but a daunting one to me. Perhaps if I ever take a landscaping course I will not feel as intimidated by the process. I have to be honest and share that laying things out on paper makes me feel not as free to create as I imagine.

If this resonates with you — take heart. Our Herbal Treasures of Hickory Hollow Garden was officially established in 1998, and I still haven’t graphed everything out section-by-section.

Except for designing the ‘bones’ of the basic garden because we were preparing the site from scratch, I could never bring myself to draw in and identify each nook and cranny of the space. Perhaps this is the very reason you will likely never see a neatly clipped and meticulously-trimmed hedge row in our Herbal Treasures’ garden. This may seem an astonishing admission from a Visual-type person, but it is true.

That said, ‘planning’ your garden does not have to involve drawing yours out to scale, with plant graphics plotted strategically on your careful sketch. For a successful garden another type of planning will help to ensure a garden hopefully more closely matching the one you imagine:

1) Determine location: amount of sun and or shade, space available, type of soil and lay out; accessibility to water source.

2) Plant selection is key: read about plants you are interested in and determine if they are possible for you to grow in your Hardiness Zone. This can be heartbreaking, but it won’t break the bank quite as easily, for your investment!

3) Consider use of the garden: 

Cutting flowers?

Growing vegetables?

For entertaining?

Do you have pets and/or children?   


The fun part is in finding the plants you would like to add to your garden. A great variety of them are now available at garden centers everywhere, and there are specialty catalogs and websites that offer more exotic, unusual or often more difficult to find plants to fill that niche.

Another reason I have not sketched out our garden is that it is a work in progress. It has changed radically in at least 3 different phases throughout it’s existence. I think if I were to draw it out, I would feel like “that was it,” and we are not there, yet.


Enjoy the process — happy ‘planning’ — most of all, happy planting!


A Garden Joy: Fresh Daffodils on Our Table

daffodilbqt-09SpringThyme Delights from our Herbal Treasures’ garden!

“Gorgeous SpringThyme Day: Bradford Pear blossoms swirl like snow in warm breezes, Forsythia bloom & house scented w/Daffodils from My Garden…” @BeckyCortino

Daffodils seem to herald spring, to me. Cut flowers pictured are from a special collection I was blessed to receive as a Garden Writer, from Brent and Becky’s Bulbs.

The varieties in the 10-pound 100-bulb assortment I listed; see the list by clicking on the linked text here

Out of this very simple (cut-out of the garden and put-them-in-a-vase) arrangement, I was able to ID these varieties:

N. Dutch Master (traditional)
N. Ice Follies

…N. Ice Follies is a new variety for us this year, and is most interesting. You may be able to make out a slight color variation of the center, which occurs as the flower matures.

Find Herbal Treasures’ Facebook Fan Page, by clicking on this link

Herbs Through the Bible, and the Ages… and at Eastertide


ht-herbs-of-the-bible1Herbs of the Bible: Home Study Course Available

As a reader of this blog, you already well know that herbs are a passion of mine and I have studied their many facets since 1980. In my study, I became interested in the history and use of herbs through the ages.

During the last 10 years, I learned about their interesting history, tradition and symbolism, as well as many ways to use them. In this process, I discovered many others are also interested in learning more about them. It has been a thrill to teach Herbs of the Bible Workshops, in addition to writing about them for the last 10 years.

As a result of my learning, teaching and writing process, I have designed and produced an “Herbs Through the Bible and the Ages… and at Eastertide” online home study course:

Biblical references give us a key to tracing the fascinating existence and use of herbs throughout time. Though impossible to recount all herbal history in a single volume as in this audiobook presentation, recounting historical significance points out that the relevancy of herbs in everyday life still remains true today. Shown through hand-picked plant selections and insights shared, Herbs of the Bible is based upon self-directed herbal study that began in 1980, faithfully presented since 2000.

The running time of the audio portion of this online self-paced home study course is over 1 hour, divided into 6 topical segments, including:

Introduction to Herbs through the Bible and Ages, Veracity of Plant Identification, and Herbal Use since Time Began

Selected Plant References to Familiar Plants

Lingering Questions Answered About the First Garden – the Garden of Eden… and was That Really an Apple Eve gave Adam?

Herbal References Related to Passover, Jesus’ Crucifixion, Christmas and Our Gardens Today

Suggested Plant Selections for a Bible Garden, and Creating Your Own Bible Garden

About the Fascinating Passion Flower

…and at Eastertide – 3 Downloadable EBooks:

Easter Herbal EBook: Including Spring Decorating Ideas and Coloring Easter Eggs Naturally with Ingredients You Already Have at Home

Easter Cookies EBook: Recipe and Story for a Hands-on Family Activity, in a Lovely Colorful Devotional

Herbal Treasures Springthyme Recipes EBook:
Featuring Herbed Egg Recipes, Brunch and Holiday Recipes, Menu Ideas with Herbalicious Outrageously ‘Springthyme’ Flavors and Ingredients that are sure to spark your imagination and ever-so gently wake up everyone’s taste buds after the long winter’s nap! Tried-and-true fresh and herbal flavors steep the very uniquely-delicious recipes in this herby EBook, to inspire Good Friday through Easter Brunch, Family Dinner and Desserts!


Based on research, study and presentations given to groups since 2000, also included in this program are downloadable up-to-date resource materials:

Guide to Scripture Gardens You Can Visit Online & In-Person — Worldwide

Herbs of the Bible Recipes EBook

Other Herbs and Plants of the Bible

Resources for Further Study


Update: Spring Bulbs Planted – Now Appearing!

ht-daff-0309As the second snow melted, much to our surprise, green tops and shoots of emerging daffodils were beginning to appear!

Within just a few days, some of the initial results of our late-fall bulb-planting began to become apparent.

If you read this blog very often, you may recall my sharing about receiving a surprise shipment of bulbs from our Garden Writer Friends Brent and Becky’s Bulbs

What a welcome sight!

We’ll keep you posted on the varieties and results of planting this special collection…

Snow in the Garden — Again!?

snow-0905Unbelieveably enough, we received a second coating of snow in our Herbal Treasures garden this season, and this time it was about 3-inches!

Of course all of the school children were delighted, because in addition to it being deep enough to really have some fun with, the abundance of it resulted in school closings. 

To our delight, the snow remained for several days, so we could all enjoy it… I can never resist capturing Snow Days in our garden!

Herbal Icon: Madalene Hill

madalene-hillOn March 4, 2009, the herb world — and certainly the world of horticulture — lost a true treasure, with the passing of Madalene Hill.

In the mid 1990’s I first became acquainted with Madalene’s extensive herbal and gardening knowledege when I read the highly-acclaimed book, Madalene and her daughter, Gwen Barclay wrote, Southern Herb Growing.  A year or two later, I had the privilege of meeting and lunching with them at the International Herb Association convention held in Lexington, Kentucky.

The Knot Garden at the National Herb Garden, which we had the privilege of visiting  in Washington, D.C. is dedicated to Madalene.

A member of the Herb Society of America since 1958, Madalene organized the South Texas Unit of the HSA in 1968, serving in several capacities throughout her tenure with that organization. When the Pioneer Unit was formed, she became a charter member. Ms. Hill served as chairman of the HSA in 1986-88, and was instrumental in relocating that organization’s headquarters to its present location in Ohio.

A recipient of many awards and recognitions, Madalene continued to be a driving force in the herb world, initiating many innovations and enhancements that benefitted the Herb Society of America. Under her direction, the Rosemary Circle was established, honoring HSA members with 25 years of active service.

In addition to her contributions to HSA, she is noted for discovering new varieties of rosemary.


Garden Safety

ChildrenSafety is a concern even when gardening. If you use chemicals of any kind, fertilizers, and pesticides be sure to thoroughly read the label and follow the instructions. This is one are that is often neglected — much to the peril of the gardener or dire results in the garden, from not following  instructions properly.

Here are some websites with garden safety information:

List of Tocic Plants:

Garden Safety with Children:


Cooperative Extension Office:

American Association of Poison Control Centers (24-hour hotline): 1-800-222-1222

Snow in the Garden

snow-0907We enjoyed a light blanket of snow in the Herbal Treasures garden recently.

Snow provides insulation as well as moisture for the garden.

This one disappeared by late afternoon, but it was pretty in the morning and early part of the day…

Garden Project: Scarborough Fair

ht-gar-07-scarboro-faire-trough“Are you going to Scarborough Fair?

Parsley, Sage Rosemary and Thyme.

Remember me to one who lives there

For she once was a true love of mine.”

Here is the Scarborough Fair trough garden project I planted, featuring the culinary herbs in the ballad: parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.

Garden inspirations are where you find them, and part of the discovery are additional avenues to explore and learn more about!

Want to learn more about Scarborough Fair, the ballad, lyrics and interpretation?

Click on this link, to learn more…

Planning Your Garden Container-wise

Gar PathIn garden planning, you may determine space and ideal planting location are not as optimal as you wish, or perhaps your growing dreams far outweigh what you believe to be possible with the space you have. Fear not!

One thing that completely amazed me in our garden visits while in London, was the great use of small spaces for gardening. I must admit when I thought of ‘English Gardening,’ my mind’s eye had a rambling cottage garden pictured. Not always so. In densely-populated urban settings, available space is a premium, but so is the need for some ‘green relief’!

So if you have space or location challenges, take a lesson from the clever English, as I did.  Container gardening has grown increasingly popular over the last several years. That, coupled with many new vegetables now available as smaller or miniature varieties also offer great opportunity to combine them in containers with flowers to make a pleasing patio-type presentation.

Hayrack planters and trough gardens can add interest, more texture, height and variety to the garden or area adorned by the containers. Planters and containers can be moved around to snhance other areas as needed, in the case of outdoor entertaining, so you can more easily multi-task!

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