From the producer: April 30, 2009

Last Halloween, we shivered a bit when we taped this week’s garden, but we warmed up quickly in our excitement about it.  Sherry Cordry and Paul Mair are not professional designers, but they sure do have a knack!  With a lot of pondering and back-breaking work, they turned their front yard into the neighborhood bistro and playground for their little boy and all his friends. It was hard to stay on task to tape, when we really wanted to stretch out in the front yard lounge and examine each exquisite plant and its placement.  I guarantee a few new ideas coming your way!

Since basil season is upon us, this week Tom meets with Cindy Phillips from the Austin Herb Society for tips to flavor your garden with edibles that multi-task as landscape attractions.

Many of you have asked about growing herbs in containers.  They are perfect container garden plants!  I always do thyme and basil in containers, and keep a hanging pot of parsley on the patio.

Curly parsley in pot

It’s certainly not as vigorous as the ones in-ground, but this biennial is past its second year, while last fall’s garden guys are already bolting.  I snip them at the base to throw into dinner, and new stalks show up in a few days.

Check out our website for Cindy’s complete list, and be sure to check out the Austin Herb Society for fun, insightful, and certainly delicious meetings and events!

In my garden, there was a time that I reserved one spot as “the herb bed.” Now, I include them everywhere, depending on what they want.  Lemon balm likes some shade, so I have it in the den and rental side beds, where it gets a bit of sun, but gets shade a lot of the day.

Lemon balm
Here’s a wider shot of it with a lot of things out of control.

Lemon balm with dicliptera, spuria iris, iberis and crinum ]

Oregano worships the sun, like this one between the flagstones in the cat cove, but it didn’t mind at all when the cat cove had shade a lot of the day.

In the crape bed, it also fills in gaps between taller perennials, getting only spots of sun throughout the day. Like all herbs, the more I cut it, the fluffier it gets. I snip off a few stems and strip off the leaves with my fingers.

In the cat cove, I also grow catmint, for you know who.  It’s also beneficial to humans, but I’ll reserve that for a CTG expert conversation.

Catmint in garden

CTG’s director Ed Fuentes got me this Spanish thyme/Cuban oregano (Plectranthus amboinicus) at the Sunset Valley Farmer’s Market, probably from the It’s About Thyme booth (a great source for herbs, along with all kinds of plants and water features).

Cuban oregeno, Plectranthus amboinicus

It’s not cold hardy, so it lived on the low bookshelf in the front room over winter. Now it basks in late afternoon sun on the front porch where it’s easy to snip for lots of recipes.

I’m so glad that in December 2007 I replaced the overgrown prostrate rosemaries lining the front walk. The Huntington Carpet is quickly forming a dense, but tame, fragrant greeting.

Huntington Carpet rosemary

I also like the upright rosemary ‘Foresteri’ in the front bed.

Rosemary foresteri
Harvey’s cilantro (which he shared with us) is going to seed.  When the seeds are brown, I’ll collect them to plant in October, and keep some as coriander for the kitchen.

Cilantro going to seed

And sigh, in the crape bed, there’s still the yarrow, a great native plant, but one that really wants to rule the world. Even though I dig it out every year, this Achillea millefolium is like the cat that came back. I didn’t have the problem with the rose and yellow versions, since they tuckered out in summer and didn’t come back.

Yarrow, achillea millifolium

Yarrow is a wonderful drought-tolerant plant that accepts shade, which is why I first planted it.  It’s good for drying, if you’re into arrangements, and beneficial insects love it.  But it is one that needs strict handling in a perennial bed.  Think ruellia or inland sea oats!

Here’s a picture from Ed’s garden, an old-fashioned daylily.


Rich Rosen from the Austin Daylily Society sent these two from his garden.

Abundant Cascades daylily Gilded by Grace daylily

If you want equally hardy, beautiful specimens for your garden, check out the eye-popping Austin Daylily Show & Sale on May 9 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at Zilker Botanical Garden.  Get there early, since the prices are good, and they go fast!

Here’s a video of Rich and Anna Marie’s daylilies, with Ed behind the video camera,  to get you in the mood

Of course, then head out to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Gardens on Tour!

Until next week, Linda