Flower or Herb?

Basil with mint and Ageratum.

Basil with mint and Ageratum.

Botanists, growers, and nurseries like to neatly categorize their plants into neat piles, all in their proper places.  Perhaps it makes them easier to find.  Perhaps it helps newbies learn about them by comparison and contrast.  Customers can be easily directed to, “Annuals here, Perennials there, shrubs in the back, and oh herbs?  If we have any, they’ll be outside with the vegetable starts.”

Sept 29 2013 garden 017That is not how our  garden grows.

A friend brought a friend to visit our garden for the first time the other day.  Their progress down the drive was very slow, and I found them by the ginger lilies, breathing deeply of their sweetness.  Nothing is very tidy at the moment.  We’re in that transition time with things coming and going all at once.

I love the garden in autumn.  The colors are rich, growth is rampant, paths are closed off by rose canes reaching out for the dwindling sun.

Fall roses have such intense color.  Growing here with Rosemary for some protection from hungry deer.

Fall roses have such intense color. Growing here with Rosemary for some protection from hungry deer.

There are a few holes where things have died back or died off, and I’m busy filling them with bulbs,  violas, and new shrubs.

“It looks like an English garden, with everything growing together,” my new friend very tactfully observed.  She was more than kind.

Our  garden is a wild place.

I can only insist on so much order.  My plants have minds of their own.  I love to see them grow and blossom, but with only a minimum of pruning, tying, moving and interfering with their natural inclination toward growth.  I’m curious.  I want to see what they will do.  I want to see where they’ll spread, and where in the garden they thrive.  A landscape architect would probably shudder at my laissez-faire  style with beds and borders.

Basil, Rosemary, Zinnias, and sage grow with a first year rose to offer it some protection as it gets established.

Basil, Rosemary, Zinnias, and sage grow with a first year rose to offer it some protection as it gets established.

And so there is no neat categorization here.  Vegetables grow next to perennials and shrubs.  Annuals grow up through the roses and form a skirt around the camellias.  Autumn ferns punctuate the shrub border, and herbs are mixed in everywhere.  As they grow together into their own tight knit families, distinctions are blurred.  Is it an herb, or is it a flower?  Is it an annual, or is it a shrub?  Is it for eating, for arranging, or for feeding the birds?

Dill growing with Basil.  Flower or herb?  Both.

Dill growing with Basil. Flower or herb? Both.

“Mu “

Zen Buddhists coined this answer.  It means, “There is no clear answer, and it doesn’t really matter.” Others use it, too.

The daisies have finally bloomed in this border on a sunny hillside.

The daisies have finally bloomed in this border on a sunny hillside.

Everything growing:  Trees, shrubs, herbs, grasses, ferns and flowers;  are all beautiful, and they serve many purposes in the garden.  Basil can be as easily used in a flower arrangement as chopped into pesto.  Ferns hold the ground against erosion, are interesting evergreens, and catch the light so beautifully in the morning.  Comfrey improves the soil while feeding the bees, and will heal a wound if needed. sept. 25, 2013 lanai 006

“Mu”  Let us garden as if we were conducting an orchestra.  Let all of the fragrances and colors blend together in a synergetic whole.  Let plants interweave and care for each other.

Camellia, "Yuletide", just slipped into a pot where Begonias and Coleus still grow.  It replaces a smaller foliage plant which is going inside for winter.  Violas will eventually ring the entire pot.

Camellia, “Yuletide”, just slipped into a pot where Begonias and Coleus still grow. It replaces a smaller foliage plant which is going inside for winter. Violas will eventually ring the entire pot.

Let the garden evolve in its own magical way, with loving attention to its needs, and with respect for the plants’ own intelligence and wisdom.

Pineapple Sage

Pineapple Sage

All Photos by Woodland Gnome 2013

Please click on any photo to enlarge and see the detail.

September 12. 2013 beauty berry 008

About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

6 responses to “Flower or Herb?

  1. Pingback: A Gorgeous Afternoon | Forest Garden

  2. Pingback: Propagating Cane Begonias | Queensland Begonia Society

  3. Forest So Green

    I like wild gardens. Your garden sounds very beautiful, Annie

    • When you come to Virginia, you’re always welcome to come by and visit, Annie. My husband just came in from moving the trash can to report a snake was sheltering behind it. That is a little “wilder” than we like, but the lizards and frogs are welcome companions.

      • Forest So Green

        Thank you. If my husband and I ever get to Virginia, I will let you know. Of course, you are welcome to Minnesota 🙂

        • That would be fun. Its been a long time since I’ve been near the Lakes. We keep talking about IL, at the least 😉 Thank you ! Looks like a whole lot around here may shut down tomorrow. We heard the Colonial Pkwy may be closed if the gov’t shuts down. Times like this reminds me of the huge federal presence in this part of VA. It is pretty, though, Annie, and you two would have a good time.

We always appreciate your comments. Thank you for adding your insight to the conversation.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 683 other followers

Follow Forest Garden on WordPress.com
Order Classic Caladiums

This Month’s Posts

Topics of Interest

%d bloggers like this: