A few weeks ago, when I first started cleaning up the garden, the herb bed looked pretty ratty. The herb bed runs along the south side of the house and projects another 12-ish feet into the yard. It was one of the first places I elevated with truck fulls of topsoil ten years ago, and changes the least…until this year.
We had a hard winter here in the northeast, the rosemary had succumbed to the polar vortex, as did the chives (!), the sage was decimated, the lavender looked ragged and the thyme looked more like a dirty, weed-filled broom than something you’d want to put in your eggs. Worse, the soil seemed depleted, too sandy with insufficient organic matter.
I started with the thyme that first weekend. I dug it out, got out all the weedy bits, separated the growing from the broom and replanted a dozen or so plugs. Then I worked on other areas of the garden for a few weeks. I’m the kind of person who needs to take time and “sit” with things for a while for a plan to come together.
When I realized that Alphonso would have time to sift the compost this past weekend, I knew what I was going to do. The actual work began Saturday when I started moving a most of the columbines to another bed. The herb bed is about 20′ long and 4′-5′ wide, and now except for an Euonymus fortunei and three Columbine, it’s all herbs.
Next I pulled all of the weeds, trimmed the sage back to new growth and re-shaped the lavender. I also dug out the dead rosemary, that was a little sad because it had survived almost 10 years. But I had been afraid to prune for the first 5+ years and the trunk was as thick as a paper towel tube and twisted like one of van Gogh’s olive trees, also the growth was concentrated asymmetrically at the top of the plant. It was good to have an excuse to start over.
After all the weeding and raking, I loosened the soil with my garden fork (aka the best tool ever) and then laid in the compost. We covered the entire bed with about 4″ of freshly sifted compost! I also laid in a little stone pathway to cut through to the water faucet.
The bed is mostly planted, but I have left plenty of room for basil which will go in next week. In years past I have had problems with cilantro bolting early in the summer, this year the cilantro is positioned so that the basil can shield it, and if necessary I can put up a wooden trellis to shade it for a few weeks while the basil gets big.
I would like to get a pyramidal support to encourage more upward growth from the euonymus, but it is a wish, not a priority. Then I can move the Shining Shields by Connecticut artist, Brian Walters to another location…but not closer to the street, because another of his pieces was stolen from the edging bed a bunch of years ago.