My front raised garden beds are a disaster right now.
The last few months, I have been tearing my hair out, trying to come up with a new garden design for my front garden. I want it overflowing with lush perennial herbs, vegetables and fruits.
Yet, as you can see, it is looking crap-tac-
My front garden bed aspect is what you would call challenging. It is a weird shape, with a steep sloping aspect that makes mains reticulation almost impossible.
I was keen to redo my crumpled raised beds in a new formal setting, with wicking beds.
The cost of extra earthworks, engineering and landscaping just got maddeningly frustrating and every time I tried to approach it another way, I hit another problem or an increased expense.
This garden design was becoming overcomplicated and ugly.
Then, the budget that I had allowed for the project evaporated. A payment that we were expecting, didn’t arrive.
Back to the drawing board.
Just as my big garden plans fell apart, a new improved garden plan fell together.
My grand plans had to be scrapped for something much simpler, more
I wish I could claim that the idea came to me in a flash of divine inspiration, but actually, it was social media that came to the rescue.
Earth Nurture Farms in New Jersey USA uses these swale beds in their garden. The great news is, we already have all we need to do this, (except my soil does not look as amazing as theirs!) in fact, it is more a process of removal than addition.
We are going to remove all the raised beds and replace them with curving swale planting beds.
I am planning to surround and anchor each swale bed with perennial herbs. These will give some structure to the beds, preventing the spillage of mulch onto the gravel paths.
We have already staked out the new swales, and will have a total of seven swales in my front garden.
Plus, perennial herbs would have to be some of my all-time favourite plants on the planet, so here are my top 10 that I will be cultivating via cuttings and seedlings in the greenhouse this month!
My Top Ten Hardy Perennial Herb Border Plants
The first front row of my terraced garden swales will be planted with rosemary. It is the toughest of all the herbs on this list and so it gets planted in the most challenging spot of my front garden redesign.
Rosemary thrives in my sandy garden and is incredibly drought, wind and heat tolerant.
Rosemary can grow up to 2 metres high and spread a metre wide, growing to become will be a protective hedge that can be easily and neatly maintained. If you are a regular reader, you know I love to use rosemary in everything from bath soaks to hair products so a greater supply will be welcome!
In the kitchen, the stalks make excellent skewers for grilled vegetables and a small bunch makes a flavourful brush for olive oil when cooking.
I’m planning to grow the smaller Munstead lavender variety, which is compact and grows 60cm tall by 60cm wide, with little risk of it overpowering the vegetable planting. It has two flushes of
Lavender is also very hardy, drought tolerant when established and required no maintenance other than a good periodic deadheading.
Its flowers attract beneficial pollinators and repel a wide variety of flies and beetles. Lavender is a fantastic companion plant for most vegetables and annuals.
Each end of the swales will be punctuated with a lavender bush for a formal look. Lavender flowers are visually stunning, smell amazing and are
Helichrysum is also known as immortelle or the curry leaf plant for its
This stunning plant has light silver colour foliage that blooms with a bright yellow flower. It grows to 60cm high and spreads to 40cm wide, loves full sun and is drought hardy when established.
Despite its curry leaf name, the leaves are not traditionally used in curries at all! But a small amount can be used judiciously in cooking for a savoury flavour. The same pungency can be repellant to cats and dogs if they are a nuisance in your garden.
The prize of this plant is its striking yellow flower that, when infused in oil or glycerine is fantastic for mature skin.
In our house, parsley is more of a salad green than a herb, we eat so much of it! So while it is not technically a perennial, I will thrive for a few years in your garden before it needs replanting.
Parsley will grow and spread about 50cm. It can handle some shade, and likes free draining soil.
I have sourced an Egyptian large leaf variety of parsley via Yilgarn Seeds that
Parsley and lettuce do not get along, but parsley is an excellent companion for almost everything else!
Thyme is delicate and pungent. Like all the other herbs on this list, it is hardy once established to wind, heat and drought and needs not more maintenance than a light, occasional trim!
Thyme grows to about 30 cm in height. Its delicate pink flowers are favoured by beneficial pollinators like bees. Thyme is a great companion plant for tomatoes and brassicas.
Garlic chives have a pungent flavour with white flower and flat leaves, while milder onion chives sport pink flowers and tubular leaves. Both varieties grow to 30cm tall, with the flowers reaching up to 50cm tall.
Chives are prized for their delicate onion flavour and are indispensable in the kitchen.
Chives are an especially good garden companion for carrots, but also encourage healthy growth of broccoli, cabbage, eggplant, kohlrabi, mustard, peppers, potatoes, rhubarb, roses, squash, strawberries and tomatoes.
Also known as purple coneflowers, echinaceas also come in a huge array of colours. Echinacea reaches up to 60cm in height, spreading 30cm wide.
Drought hardy and tolerant to poor soils, low rainfall and heat, echinaceas are an attractive and useful plant in the garden.
Echinacea enthusiasts believe that the herb encourages the immune system and reduces many of the symptoms of colds, flu, infections, and an
I love sage, it’s textured leaf reminds me of a cats tongue. It is beautifully fragrant and compliments roast vegetables.
Sage will grow up to 90cm tall and spreads about the same. Sage can handle the heat, but not humidity and needs well drained soil.
I’m going to grow both green and purple sage, it is a great companion plant for brassicas. The flowers are beautiful in salads and are a favourite with bees.
Yarrow is a delicately leafed herb, with lacy white flowers growing to 60cm. But don’t be fooled by yarrow’s delicate appearance, for this herb is robust and vigorous. Yarrow is drought tolerant and often grown to prevent soil erosion, so will be perfect to grow on my swales.
Yarrow has numerous medicinal uses, most useful in the garden as a kind of botanical leaf band-aid that assists in
I am going to grow the white and pink yarrow varieties. Yarrow attracts beneficial pollinators, especially aphid munching ladybirds!
Yarrow is a fantastic companion plant and enjoys being close to brassicas, tomatoes, melons, eggplant, beans and spinach.
Agastache is also known as anise hyssop and is perhaps best known for its liquorice fragrance. Its beautiful feathered blue flowers that are very popular with all beneficial pollinators.
Agastache will grow up to 90cm tall and spread 60cm. It is likely the most delicate of the herbs on this list, so I will be sure to put it in the shadiest spot. But, it is still quite robust, and once established can be heat tolerant, but will benefit from being watered frequently and out of the harshest direct sun.
After flowering, deadhead the spent flowers and trim the plant back by 1/3 to encourage new fresh growth.
I have already sketched this plan using my Garden Journal Garden Map page, it has a grid to make measuring and planning easier. The best news is, its free when you subscribe, plus you’ll get access to out exclusive Subscriber Resource Library! If you haven’t already subscribed and received your access password, be sure to do so now! There is so much useful stuff in the Resource Library, you won’t want to miss it!
Now my only problem is deciding whether I should mix them all in together, or go for a more formal look with a row of each. What would you suggest?
Do you grow any of these herbs? Which would be your favourite perennial herb? I would love to hear from you, please leave a comment below!