Perennial herbs

I’ve not been idle whilst it’s been raining. Oh no. Yesterday, I did a ton of marking and even found time to squash in a little planning.

I’ve been planning a perennial herb garden for somewhere or other. I was thinking of putting it here ↓

DSCF3129but seeing as it has been under water twice this year, I might look for a drier spot.

One place I’ve been thinking is along the edge of my vegetable garden. There’s plenty of space and it will also serve another purpose: keeping the dogs (and other things) out.

César, the resident castrato labrador of the village, likes to wander around willy-nilly. You can often hear his arrival by the barking he sets off at every other house along the road. I think, out of the 14 houses in my hamlet, at least half must have dogs. César is a very happy chappy. He stops to say hello at every house. And, at every house, he is met by barks.

He used to love to play with Molly, and he’s not sure about Heston yet, but he still comes to say hello with astounding regularity. He, however, is not always my best friend in the Littlest Hobo category on account of he once had a tug-of-war with Heston using Rita The Chicken as his rope. I blame Heston. César had done nothing but sniff up until that point, but he must have thought it was fair game.

Anyway, César has now found two other petits copains – a blond lab cross and another black dog. They sometimes make a little foursome with a chasse dog who lives at a house in Les Hautes Ecures, up the road. They do nothing but play, but they love to play.

And, recently, they’ve been getting a little closer. One day, César is going to show them how he gets in my garden (via a surprising number of entrances, I must say) and then I’ll be back to getting mad, dragging various dogs back to their various owners with a il est gentil, mais… and a fierce look.

Not that my neighbours care.

A stray pack of dogs seems to be par for the course round here.

Plus, if they get in and play tug-of-war with Rita again, I may not be responsible for my actions.

Not only that, if mighty César can get in, foxes, martens, badgers, wild boar and the likes can all get in. I even had a wild boar in my garden once. And yes, it was of the animal variety.

So… I need to replace the 100 metres of chicken wire along the edge of my property. Whilst I’m in there, I might as well put in a couple of raised beds and build myself a perennial herb garden, so I thought to myself.

This is kind of what it looks like right now. The red diagonal line is the fence line.


So, the first thing in will be some Angelica. Angelica, the medicinal herb that grows by the wayside here and has been used for everything from curing the plague to adding to Chartreuse, is a statuesque creature and will look really good at the back of a big border. It’s biennial sometimes, unless you chop its flowers off, but it seeds happily. Also known as wild celery, you’ll definitely know its candied form – the bright green candied peel you get.

Angelica can be anywhere between 1-3 metres. It can tolerate slightly shady sites, but as you can see, this is a South-East facing site and it has sun virtually all day. It likes a slightly acid soil, but I don’t think the soil round here can deter it since it grows very well along the side of the road.

I’m not sure about the seed yet – whether I’ll buy a small plant or some seed. Apparently the seed is not viable for a long time and so I’m wary of buying a packet of it.

Then, in front of the Angelica, I’m planning on rosemary, sage and oregano. I don’t have masses of luck with rosemary or sage – but oregano likes it here. The rosemary and sage are easy enough to buy as small plants here.

I love the smell of oregano. I have one plant in the polytunnel and it perfumes the whole place. It’s one of my favourite smells – maybe it reminds me of pizza. I think I could quite happily breathe in that warm smell all day. In the early spring, when it’s still cold, I go in the polytunnel – always five or six degrees warmer and sheltered from the wind – and crush a few leaves of it. It grows right next to a thyme plant and they are very happy indeed. I’m happy because they crowd out the dreaded convolvulus.

I thought, since I got a bit carried away with just how many plants I could cram into a three-metre-squared spot last summer with my perennial flower garden, I might even indulge in a little prairie-style planting. After all, that ground is doing nothing except growing weeds and grass.

Raised beds mean that I don’t have to work it too hard, either.

DSCF2594This was my first perennial flower bed last year. It got full and busy pretty quickly!

Hopefully, like the perennial bed here (well, I put some annuals in to fill the gaps!) it will be pretty easy maintenance.

Then I can put a bed closer to the house in the courtyard. That will be more sheltered and better for annual herbs.

I’ve got other perennial herbs that I want to plant prairie-style as well, but they can wait. It’d be nice to have lots of useful AND beautiful plants.



3 thoughts on “Perennial herbs

  1. Wild angelica and the angelica grown to candy are two different species. Both like it wet. Wild celery is a different species again. Oregano, rosemary and sage all like it dry, or at least well drained.

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