Herbs Going Wild
Across the driveway from the house, behind the Crabapple tree, there is a little sunny space that I intended to use for herbs and vegetables.
The thing is, though, this bed is being overrun by several wonderful yet overly aggressive herbs.
First, there’s the Oregano (Origanum vulgare), seen above with a Painted Lady butterfly (the first we’ve seen this year in the garden). This plant is a magnet for all kinds of pollinators, including some really scary giant black wasps.
But it also harbors dark ambitions of world domination. It spreads by rhizome, creating a mat of roots so impenetrable that I generally use a pickax to break off clumps of it. And it self-sows – “freely” is really an inadequate word. I’d say it self-sows maniacally.
Then there’s Borage (Borago officinalis). This is a beautiful plant, I love the star-shaped blue flowers. And the bees do, too.
But once you have a single Borage plant, you will find Borage popping up everywhere until the last syllable of recorded time. Trying to remove Borage plants is like playing a game of whack-a-mole.
Last but not least, there’s the Bronze Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpureum’). This too is a fecund self-sower, but once Fennel seedlings take hold, they put down a tap root that lives approximately forever. Fennel is a host plant for Black Swallowtail butterflies, and the flowers are popular with all kinds of pollinators.
Hold on – time for a hummingbird break!
While Judy was taking pictures of the Bronze Fennel, this Ruby-Throated Hummingbird started feeding on the one Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia) I’ve got in the Herb Bed. Judy got a couple of pictures before the hummer zipped away.
Anyhow, where was I? Oh, right. There are a few other plants in the Herb Bed besides the Big Three. There’s some Rue, (Ruta graveolens). I’ve never tasted Rue, but I planted it because it’s a host for Red Admiral butterflies. If you look carefully in the picture above, you’ll see a Black Swallowtail checking out the Rue flowers.
There’s also the ‘Multi-Blue’ Clematis on the tuteur, which continues to put out the occasional flower.
Finally, there are some Tomato and Basil plants – but to be honest, these have almost disappeared from view. I have no idea how they are doing.
But that’s not such a terrible problem, as my container herbs and Tomatoes on the back steps are looking pretty good. We’ve been using the Mint, Basil, and Parsley from the containers – and it’s really nice to have them right outside the door near the kitchen.
Here’s a closeup of some green ‘Patio’ tomatoes.
And these are ‘Juliet’ grape tomatoes.
Judy did not seem concerned when I told her that the Herb Bed was getting out of control. Maybe she’s right – a bed filled with Bronze Fennel and Borage might not be such a bad thing. So perhaps I will let it go mostly wild. Certainly, the bees and Black Swallowtails would be happy. Though I think I need to cut back the Fennel flowers before they set seed.
The Oregano, though – don’t think I want that monster to take over. I might dig all of it up and just grow a small amount in a pot from now on.
What do you think – am I asking for trouble if I unleash the Borage and Bronze Fennel?