When I dug up the car park and created a huge bed in the front garden I intended to grow vegetables.
Since it is in a lovely sunny spot, the idea was that I would increase my vegetable growing space and grow lots of tomatoes and other sunloving things. The trouble is that they have never done very well. I’ve tackled this every year with yet more compost, green manure, nitrogen fixing plants such as beans and I water when I remember. One year I had a magnificent crop of overwintered broad beans but otherwise everything tends to go straggly, get eaten by snails, dry out with the faintest whiff of sunshine and generally fail to thrive. The reason for this is that it is lovely and sunny but it dries out too quickly because the monstrous sycamore in the corner of the garden has stretched its endless roots into my lovely compost and helped itself to all the good things in the bed. Putting yet more compost into this is only feeding the sycamore.
Meanwhile, the herbs that I planted round the edges of this plot have been in their element. I’ve had magnificent rosemary, sage, thyme, lovage, oregano and tarragon – no parsley, I’m afraid. These plants have been trying to tell me something. The lovely vegetable patch in the front garden is not suitable for vegetables but it is perfect for herbs. And the bees love this.
So, I’ve finally decided to give up on the front garden vegetables and turn it into a proper herb garden instead. It is a bit odd having a herb garden at the front but the peculiar arrangement of our house means that the kitchen door faces into the front garden and it is just as easy to dash out there for a pinch of herbs for the soup or salad as it would be go out the back. I keep a collection of pot bound herbs right at the door
Lemon balm in leaky watering can
Herbs in baking tin and coffee pot
but, despite what all the books say, most of my herbs don’t seem to be very happy in pots. They are getting rather overgrown, the dratted vine weevils are nibbling their way through their roots, while the slugs and snails are helping themselves to the juicy green bits.
So today I’ve planted out the bay tree in the middle of the ‘vegetable bed’
There are still some struggling broad beans which may yet do something, as well as some chives, newly transplanted. You’ll see in the close up of the bay the tell-tale signs of vine weevil munching. I’ve kept some cuttings back to grow in the pot in the hope that they will root before the weevils get to them and provide new plants just in case of a very cold winter.
I’ve planted out some more chives and garlic chives and split up the happy tarragon, oregano and thyme to let it all spread about a bit.
There are still daffodils lurking underneath:
Sometimes you just have to let the plants decide where they want to grow and give up on the grand plans. It’s never going to look like the tidy herb gardens in the garden design books but here’s hoping that everything will do well, bring joyful daffodils in spring, provide us with fresh herbs most of the year and keep the bees happy in the summer.