What bliss spending a morning or afternoon outdoors, leisurely planting up a beautiful little herb garden for yourself at your luxury retirement villages! It could be small and simple, or a bit larger and more elaborate, containing more varieties. Why not head for the garden centre and build in a delicious, decadent, cake and coffee to help along the choosing process?!
Whatever container you choose, it needs to be frost- proof, and have water drainage holes in the bottom so your herbs don’t get wet feet and sulk, or worse – drown! There are many stylish bargains to be rescued from second-hand shops, such as the characterful galvanised bath tub used in this project, or take a quick trip from your independent senior living to treat yourself to a terracotta or ceramic pot from the garden centre, when you go for your plants. You’ll need pot feet to lift pots off the ground to prevent waterlogging in the winter. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you could go for a purpose- built vegetable planter like this one, which is very smart and saves you bending down to tend it:
It’s worth paying a little more for compost made especially for container growing, because it has added nutrients in it, and granules which enhance the water retaining properties, so for about six weeks the soil does the work of developing good roots and you have no work to do other than watering your plants which is a quick, relaxing job to have whilst staying in your lifestyle villages!
Plants, the exciting bit!
So many to choose from! Choose what you enjoy to enhance your cooking, or go with the shopping list for this project for simplicity. These varieties were chosen because the silvery leaf colours, the flash of acidic green, and the leaf shapes will look spectacular in the tub together, you just need to be mindful that the lavender and the rosemary won’t need as much water as the other, more leafy herbs. All of these herbs will do well in a sunny spot, or dappled shade.
- Oregano – Country cream
- Lemon Balm/Melissa
- Lavender – Munstead for scent and gorgeousness!
- White Geranium – for elegant beauty!
- Pansy – to make you smile
You’ll need some crocks, i.e., bits of broken pot to place over the drainage holes to stop them clogging, or rocky pebbles will serve well.
- The night before planting, give your plants a long drink of water, to ensure the roots and leaves are fully hydrated in preparation for their big move.
- Place your crocks over the drainage holes.
- Fill with compost, to about 4 inches from the top of the container, tamping it down quite firmly to eliminate air pockets.
- Arrange your plants in their pots on the soil until you’re happy with how they look together. Take a picture on your mobile.
- Take your plants from their pots, and use the pots to make spaces in the compost. Space your plants so that they have room to grow. They’ll look a bit sparse for a couple of weeks, but lushness will come! Firm the soil round the pots, then remove them.
- Your plants will slot perfectly into the holes you’ve made with no stress to their delicate root systems, and you can then firm more compost round their stems to stabilise them finally. You can refer to your photograph for placement.
- You’re aiming to have the compost level just a couple of inches shy of your container rim, so the compost doesn’t spill out when your water, and so the plants can proudly grow and reach for the sun.
Water them generously!
Herbs also look fantastic grouped in individual pots, around your main pot. This is great if you like to move them around, vary the scene you’ve created, and you can enjoy playing with colour, height and variety. If there’s a day you don’t feel like leaving your lifestyle villages you can see nature right on your doorstep.
Water regularly, and enjoy your visual and culinary treat!
Author – Maggie Wilkinson