Creating a New Garden

Zinnia and peonies next to the kitchen walkway

We have a little stone walkway that leads to our kitchen door; it ends, or begins, at our driveway. Next to the walkway I’ve planted herbs—many of which I brought with me from my last little house — to cook with. Also, they make my house a home.

Pathway to herbs and grassy hill from garden

Each of these plants has it’s own energy and, I believe, sentience. For years I’ve had thyme, sage, peppermint, rosemary, and oregano growing. There’s also lavender, tulsi (holy basil), basil, parsley, lady’s mantle, lemon balm, lemon verbena … I know these plants; the perennials have been split, moved around, and taken root in more than one place around the property. The self seeding plants have reappeared, magically, near to their original spots. They have been in my cooking, giving flavor and brightness to our meals, been tea, food for butterflies, hummingbirds, yellow finch.

This spring I decided that I wanted to create a proper kitchen garden and add to this group, but I felt stuck as I tried to imagine a design that I could create.

The spot I had in mind next to the kitchen has a slope. It used to be a barn, actually, which is a bit mysterious to me since I would expect the spot the barn stood on to be flat. The barn, now gone, was blown over by a hurricane in 1933. Since the barn’s demise, the spot acquired grass to become a grassy hill next to the house with a few well-established foundation plantings.

Grassy hillside between kitchen and driveway

I hired enchanted gardens, Jana Millbocker, to create a design for me since I was having trouble imagining my little hillside transformed. She did, measuring and photographing the hillside, and drawing on traditional designs.

It’s autumn in New England and so creating the structure is what I can do, along with relocating existing plants to their new homes. I’ve been at it for weeks, constructing a stone retaining wall, removing turf, moving plants, laying pea stone:

New herb garden. Bones!

Next year, some of these will mature and grow and there will be a host of new residents added. Borage, bronze fennel, basil, tarragon, others.

So, with winter about to descend I’ve paused construction to enjoy the flaming autumn colors all around us and to give extra love to my relocated friends …

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