Features of Charles’ Garden
Annuals: Artemisia, 6 varieties of basil,
borage, salad burnet, dill, fennel, lavender,
lamb’s ear, lemon balm, mint, mullein, milk
thistle, nasturtium, curly and flat leaf
parsley, patchouli, sorrel and thyme.
Perennials: Rosemary, many salvia
varieties, bay, chives, comfrey, scented
geraniums, allspice, aloe, lemon grass,
lemon verbena, mint, marigold, oregano,
and a tapioca tree.
Flowers and succulents: Many orchids
growing in her orchid house; Rudbeckia
(daisy), Cosmos, Bougainvillaea, Euphorbia,
Angel Trumpet, bromeliads, impatiens,
and many others.
Herbs aren’t the splashiest things to grow,
although many have beautiful flowers. But
they have a subtle beauty in their shades of
green, their variety of leaf forms and the way
they feel. From the soft touch of comfrey to
the thick, slick leaf of the bay, from the fragile emerald of
curly lettuce leaf basil to the butterscotch and red of some
allspice leaves, there is a world of variety among herb plants.
Chives and others resemble a sort of grass. Bronze fennel,
with its anise-like scent, puts up soft, feathery leaves.
Echinacea, a flowering medicinal herb, can grow several feet
tall or be quite short, depending on the variety. Rosemary
can be trained to grow like a tree or even assume a hedgelike
Charles raises many of her herbs from seed instead of
buying small plants, and says anyone can do it. Seeds can be
started indoors in the garage or porch in pots or in special
trays designed for starting seeds, and then moved outdoors
where they need 4 to 6 hours of sun. “Ten years ago I started
experimenting with starting some herbs from seed and
found that the selection available through seed catalogs and
the seed exchange at the Herb Society of America offers a
wide variety,” she says.
For instance, she can experiment and pique the interest of
visiting friends by growing unusual varieties, such as cinnamon
basil (used in some cookies), lemon flavored basil, and dark
opal basil. “Herb seeds are germinated in August and usually
transplanted to the garden in November and December,”
she says. “Starting from seeds is more labor intensive than
Above, feathery bronze fennel has an anise-like taste and adds color to
the overall green of an herb garden.
Left, desert rose a succulent native to Africa, can handle lots of neglect
and can be grown in a pot or in the ground. Their beautiful flowers are
pollinated at night by moths. Hybrids from the Far East come in a wonderful
array of colors and shapes. The plants with the best colors are started
from seed. Very large desert rose plants can be worth as much