Working on an herb garden

While the kitties entertain themselves…

{Orange chomps kitty grass first thing after breakfast}
{Roosevelt, taunted by the squirrel who casually plops nuts on his head, does nothing}
I have been toiling away at the neglected left side of the back yard. There we have a nice rectangular border which once housed some sad little rose bushes. Roses are lovely and all that, but not really my thing. Besides, I really want the back gardens to be hard-working and roses are just so… LEISURELY. So I gave them away. Literally, a post on craigslist was flooded with requests. In the end they were excavated by a landscape architect. How perfect.
What I want is an herb border. I want it for food. I want it because it smells amazing. I want it because this is California and it’s what. we. do. It’s just cool. And I want it to be a nice mix of herbs and decorative plants. Like papyrus:
I have wanted giant papyrus ever since I saw them during a photo shoot for work. They scream California to me (even though they are from Egypt). I suppose my fascination stems from being a midwestern import. The crazy prehistoric plants they have all around here are new to me. Other obsessions: giants ferns and black bamboo. Once I saw hedges made of geraniums. What?! In my hometown (Rockford, Illinois) geraniums are reserved for your grandmother’s porch pot. NOT a hedge!
Anyway, I wanted papyrus and I wanted it to be the centerpiece of my herb border. Papyrus likes to sit in water. I do not have a pond, have no plans for a pond and I worried this might be an issue. The internet assured me I could grow it in pots, just no holes for drainage. Pots are best anyway because this plant is invasive, the same as bamboo. I set out for pots and found three amazing black plastic pots at Ikea, two large for papyrus and one small for mint (also invasive).
Then the deal of all deals, two giant papyrus for $14.99 each at Home Depot. I squealed. I had only seen this plant at boutique nurseries with hefty price tags. I snatched them up and wow, they are quite the showstoppers. People asked me about them as I walked to the register, people asked me about them as I walked to my Jeep. And people watched in humor as I set them in the back seat, sticking out the window. I laughed too.
They fit just right in my pots and I adorned them with two variations of potato vine, a purple and a vibrant green for color.
Then I could start to build the border. The papyrus took top position at two midpoints of the box. Mint was then placed in between but off-center. Some of my herbs are already nice little plants, including Mint, Thai Basil, Basil and Curled Parsley. Others I started from seed and they aren’t quite ready for the ground:
Here we have Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, Sage and Red Basil. I also started some Catnip for the kids. I chose my herbs somewhat based on usage and some for color. The garden can be a little bit leisurely, all work and no play makes a dull border!
While I was at it, I fancied up my hanging basket. The alyssum is supposed to be good for pest control and it smells fantastic.
Here it is, hard at work growing to disguise my old fence. What you can’t see is the Kangaroo Paw to the left and what will be a giant fern all the way to the back. Oh my goodness, I love it. Papyrus is right out of a fantasy, a little bit of The Neverending Story here in my backyard

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