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!


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!

Herbal Treasures Garden Grow e-course

HT GarNew Year’s resolutions often pinpoint areas we want to “work” on, but in order to be successful we have to lay out an action plan to accomplish at least a portion of the desired goal. Sometimes we have to spend a little time preparing ourselves, by learning more, or reviewing information to get clear on what lies ahead.

What are your gardening resolutions or plans for the upcoming growing season?

Are you planning to grow the Garden of Your Dreams in 2008?

Fine-tuning an existing garden or designing a new plot?

Want some sage advice to inspire and get you growing?

You are herbacordially invited to join us for our Herbal Treasures Garden Grow e-course!

You may be wondering what Herbal Treasures Garden Grow e-course is all about… 

It is a 7-day program that is offered on a complimentary basis, to anyone at any gardening experience level who signs up.

What are your New Year gardening plans? Please do leave a comment and fill me in…

Hope you’ll come “Dig the Dirt” with me, as we prepare to get growing in 2008!

Herbal Treasures Featured WordPress Blog

Gar Path  We received a cool surprise in our email today! 

Herbal Treasures’ blog was featured by WordPress — check it out

Drought-proof Your Garden by Design

Garden guy Drought-proofing your garden before the imposed need arises is a long-term step in sustainability that protects your investment of time and money in its design and establishment.

We experienced a major drought in our area this season! During our 14 years of living here, we have had droughts, but the southeast was hit so hard this year, the effect was further intensified. For the first time, watering restrictions were mandated in our area.

Fortunately, along with a major garden redesign early in the season, the majority of the plants added to our gardens this year were hardy perennials carefully selected to handle the heat and less watering-intensive.  We didn’t know there would be a drought, but planned a sustainable garden design. 

This is an important factor to keep in mind when designing or establishing a garden.

Also — remember that watering continues through the fall, as well.

Here are a series of articles on how to adapt your garden over the longterm to the normal, recurrent fluctuations in moisture through rain or snow, from Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Garden Project: Bulb Forcing

Bulbs  Fall is a busy time for gardeners, with so many things to do — end of season chores including the lawn, transplanting some new additions for the next season (especially woody plants and spring bulbs, for drifts of color).

Now is the time to take cuttings of tender perennials, to propagate more plants over the winter, to get a jump on spring.

How about forcing some bulbs, for flowers you will enjoy later, indoors? They also make great holiday gifts.

Here’s a “how-to” guide

Preparing Perennial Beds for Winter

Rudbeckia  This is the time of the growing season that provides a great opportunity to expand your garden, share bounty with others and plan next year’s garden of your dreams, while caring for the present garden. I call that big-time multi-tasking! This does require some planning ahead…

Here is a helpful guide on Getting your Perennial Gardens Ready for Fall and Winter

Mini-Bog Garden

Venus Flytrap   Garden Project: Making a Mini-Bog Garden

These low-maintenance garden planters are interesting conversation pieces in the garden! From reputable sources (due to rare and endangered species regulations), select from assorted carnivorousplants: Pitcher Plants, Venus Flytraps, Sundews, Cobra Orchid.

Choose a large (planter bowl-type) container with a drainage hole, and a deep saucer or tray (in which planter may be placed) that will hold water.

In a bucket, combine equal parts of sand and sphagnum peat; add water and mixing until a muddy mixture results. (For texture, perlite or pine needles may be added.) Within 2 inches of the rim, fill the chosen planter with mud mixture, pressing down to remove air pockets. Place prepared container into saucer or tray filled with mineral-free water.

Plan how you wish to arrange your selected plants; then insert each plant into a hole dug into the growing medium; pressing around rootballs, to close airspaces. On top of the growing medium, place a sheet of live sphagnum moss, tucking in around each plant. This finishes the container attractively, and helps to retain moisture.

Watering with mineral-free water (ie, collected rainwater, or sodium- free bottled water), along with adding fresh sphagnum moss as needed, or pulling any weeds, are all the maintenance that are required.

Plants go dormant in the winter. Prune any dead plant materials in the spring, to make room for healthy growth.