Has anyone ever done a formal-styled, permie herb garden? Are those things mutually exclusive?
My husband has always wanted a formal garden (I think he lived in Colonial Virginia in a past life or something...).
I want a wild, edible food forest.
So I thought I'd compromise, sort of -
I'll still make my food forest in another part of the garden, but right next to the house I want to make him a small, formal-looking-ish herb garden. (Not so much the neatly trimmed hedge border but the overall style of borders, symmetry, etc.)
And of course, as permie/sustainable as possible.
Oh, and it will have to make do with partial sun, it's getting about 4-5 hours of direct sun in the morning into 2-3pm, when the huge oaks start shading the area.
We live in zone 7a, Central Virginia, the house and yard are not new (house built in 1992), there's some azaleas by the house (a few of which I already pulled out, but would you advise leaving the other ones there for the winter? My chickens like to hide in them when they free range, so I don't mind them staying for now) and a couple of hostas but that's it.
I've started putting down a thick layer of mulch where the azaleas used to be, so that by spring the spot will have nice compost underneath (it's clay soil).
I'm also covering an adjacent area of grass with said mulch, so hopefully it will kill and grass, turn it into compost, and I'll be able to use that whole area for planting the formal garden come spring.
Do I need to do more than that to kill the grass? I can put down cardboard if it's necessary... But I'd rather not, and this grass isn't like those shiny, thick turfs, anyway. It's struggled in the shade of the other oaks so I'm pretty sure the thick mulch will be enough to kill it...
What else should I consider in planning this garden? Of course, choosing shade/partial shade plants... etc... And I am thinking of using the down spout (which comes down in the middle of this area) to help water it, either by directly flooding it, or collecting water in a barrel at the bottom of the spout.
I'm totally new to permaculture (and the state of VA) so I'm sure there's other things I'm missing...
Would appreciate any tips, input, etc.
Not sure how formal this is but when we bought this place there were piles of rocks and a big pile of tractor tires. I'll try to upload a pic but basically I just put the tires in the center and stacked rocks around to make a several compartments.
Formal gardens often involve a lot of lavender, rosemary, sage, and thyme — so I see no reason you can’t do what you have in mind. Many herbs are perennials, and flow from large bushes (rosemary) to ground cover (thyme) so you’ve got all the tools you need for a permie-friendly guild.
I would say that formal gardens are characterized by their layout more than by what is in them. So you either have to install hardscape to keep the plants in a specific design, pick orderly plants that grow in a set way, or prune a lot a lot a lot. Personally I would map my area and set up a design, look around to see what elements I could upcycle into hardscape, like tires, bricks, stones, then fill in with plants I thought would thrive, but in an orderly fashion. I seem to remember the "mandala garden" in the original permaculture book looked almost like a formal garden when on paper.
Location: Richmond VA
posted 2 days ago
I'm really excited about this!
Need to look for some inspirational pictures, and figure out how I want to do it (i.e. raised beds in arcs? 2 big beds forming a half circle with a path down the middle and a border around?
Then there is the choice of plants, etc.
This will be a fun project, for sure!
So, what are y'all's favorite shady-ish herbs to grow? I'm used to growing things in warm, sunny Israel LOL need some ideas!
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