The renovation of the herb garden at Rutgers Gardens is complete for this year. This step one of a multi-year renovation of the garden to make it more attractive and educational. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to plan and plant the garden the way I wanted to because the surrounding hornbeam hedge wasn’t pruned. It is literally eating the herb garden. Fingers crossed that it gets pruned later this year or early next year.
My first and most important step was to replace the dead rosemary hedge with new plants. The original hedge was composed of Arp rosemary. The replacement plants are a mix of cultivars including two with pink flowers instead of the usual blue. I can’t wait for them to bloom!
The rosemary plants were neglected in the greenhouse and so were not in good shape when I planted them. Two of them died and I replaced them with yarrow that I had grown from seed. This is the classic yarrow with white flowers. The plants should bloom next year. The corner where I had originally planned to install them was overtaken by the santolina which is having an excellent year this year. It got HUGE.
Close by, but not exactly where I would have liked it, I planted white horehound that was also grown from seed. It is a member of the mint family so I know that the three scraggly plants will grow and multiply, easily filling their part of the herb garden.
The stone walkways and gravel mulch in the herb garden retain heat which is held in by the surrounding hornbeam hedge creating a microclimate. I am able to grow herbs that are not usually hardy here in New Jersey. This year I added a golden sage plant which is normally only hardy through zone 7. It is actually a replacement plant for the original one that died during a particularly cold winter. The existing purple sage in that bed is hardy through zone 6.
I added lots of thyme this year. In the sunburst in front of the sage hedge, I planted a spicy orange thyme which has needle foliage like a pine tree. Like the other thymes in that area, it is a creeping thyme. In the past I have planted creeping thymes there but they all died by the end of the summer. This one is very happy in its new home and is growing nicely.
In the “empty quarter” as I call the space behind the lavender, I planted four new thymes. I have always mentally “reserved” that bed for thymes because that side of the herb garden is shadier than the other side and thymes can tolerate some shade. The four thymes are German thyme, French thyme, Faustinoi thyme, which has pink flowers, and Doone Valley, a variegated thyme. They are planted in an odd spot because of the encroaching hornbeam.
Next year, I will continue adding new sages and thymes as well as some new drought tolerant herbs (to be determined). I have some ideas for including non-drought tolerant herbs, such as scented geraniums, which may or may not work out.