Garden Party: Part 2

Hey y’all! It’s amazing to see the garden’s growth and progress today. It’s also good to be home! We just returned from a family “To Yellowstone or Bust” road trip. A seven day pilgrimage through four states, into beautiful Yellowstone National Park. The mountainous scenery, breathtaking waterfalls, volcanic mud pits galore, critters galore, trees, and more trees, truly a sight to see. Another sight to see. Coming home in the wee dark hours to find – THIS

Yowser! This fallen Mesquite tree was growing underneath the fence, into our yard and was a part of another Mesquite that is growing in my neighbors yard.

Amazing, huh? A Garden Party twist in the making. We were even more surprised to find that hours earlier, our friends were hanging out with our critters in the yard, under this here tree – it must have fallen within hours of their departure and our arrival! The Mesquite tree was a small undergrowth tree, which grew at an arch under the fence. It was a nice enough tree, but was a bit straggly, thorny, and hard to prune. Just ask Blue. We tried to see if there was any way to save it, but soon realized that it was not going to be possible. I was very interested to see how the absence of this tree would affect the herb garden plants, and was surprised how much it has changed my perspective of the yard.

The herb garden area today, minus the tree. To see the changes, check out the original landscape design in Garden Party: Part 1.

Seven days and a pile of firewood later – a new landscape has emerged. The skyline has really opened up the yard and the herbs are still enjoying filtered shade from the (parent) Mesquite in the neighbors yard. It is really magnificent to have a full view of the night sky and amazing stars. My office view once looked upon this tree, which highlighted bird visitors but also blocked my view of the gardens. Thankfully we have three big trees that I can now see openly, birds and all. It is quite refreshing to get an unobstructed view of the clouds and gardens from my office. Mother Nature sure surprised us with a changed landscape and expansive perspective!

The Herb garden today. The neighbor’s Mesquite tree is still providing some filtered shade, but most of the day the herbs are having a party in full sun. With the herbs and veggies planted and a harvest before us – it’s time to Partay! Welcome friends, to the second part of our Garden Party!

Look how much fun we had at the first Garden Party! In Part 1, we got the party started, sharing garden inspirations, the concept, design, and preparation of the garden space for our first ever Texas garden in the making.

We went from this

to THIS! The celebration continues in Part 2 with a tour of the planted Gardens, the master plant lists, as well as the lowdown on what plants are thriving and what plants are not. Ready? Set? Fiesta!!!!

First up. Z Herb Garden 2010

Z Herb Garden (6 weeks); herbs were chosen for their culinary, medicinal, and cosmetic properties and are close to the kitchen.

Z Herb Garden 2010

Wall Germander, Teucrium chamaedrys
Greek Oregano, Origanum vulgare subsp. hirtum
Boxwood Basil, Ocimum basilicum ‘Boxwood’
German Thyme, Thymus vulgaris
Garden Sage, Salvia officinalis
Yarrow, Achillea millefolium ‘Paprika’ & ‘White’
Variegated Oregano, Origanum majorana ‘Variegata’
Golden Lemon Thyme, Thymus x citriodorus ‘Aureus’
German Chamomile, Matricaria recutita
Golden Oregano, Origanum vulgare ‘Aureum’
Gotu kola, Centella asiatica
Stevia, Stevia rebaudiana
Winter savory, Satureja hortensis
Italian Oregano, Origanum x majoricum
Lemon Thyme, Thymus citriodorus
Onion Chives, Allium schoenoprasum

Along the side fence:
Pineapple Sage, Salvia elegans
Broad leaf Sage, Salvia officinalis
Patchouli, Pogostemon cablin
Not pictured: Dittany of Crete, Origanum dictamnus and Lavender, ‘Vera’ and ‘Provence”

Z Herb Garden was planted on July 10, 2010. The center of all my garden designs begin with herbs. Fragrant, fresh, and easy to grow, herbs are not only beautiful, but are beneficial as well. You will see many of these herbs served up in recipes and dishes in my Zesty Kitchen and also in The Herb Room, where I create my all natural soaps.

After 3 weeks in their new bed, the herbs are quite happy. The main herb bed is home to most of the culinary and tea herbs.

Sweet Stevia! Taste it and you will see why stevia is also known as “sweet leaf”. Stevia leaves contain 30–45 times the sweetness of sugar, and the extracts have up to 300 times the sweetness of sugar. The big PLUS is that stevia is a natural and healthy sugar substitute, it is a low glycemic sweetener, having little to no effect on blood glucose. The leaves can be enjoyed fresh, and added to teas and recipes or look to your local supermarket for stevia based sweeteners.

Many herbs are versatile, having multiple holistic benefits and can be enjoyed internally and externally as well.

Gotu kola an herb that is beneficial to the skin and the brain! This versatile herb is used topically, to rejuvenate and strengthen the skin, heal wounds and increase blood supply to the area. Medicinally, it is used for improving cognitive functions and currently is being used in trials for those suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Aroma therapeutic herbs line the fence (3 weeks) . Pineapple Sage, Broad leaf sage, and Patchouli are herbs that smell so good!

Patchouli is the primary aromatic scent and whole herb that I use to make Sensuality Soap. This specialty bar’s gentle exfoliation and texture is produced from this plant, and the aromatic scent is also from the essential oil. It has a characteristic warm, sensual, and earthy scent. The scent of patchouli is familiar to many, especially those that lived in the 60’s, and is also known as the “hippie” scent. (3 weeks)

Pineapple Sage and Broad leaf Sage are aromatic plants that are also examples of versatile herbs. These herbs are great in the kitchen, in teas, and for creating my natural soaps for The Herb Room.

This is how the herbs looked before the Mesquite tree fell


this is what they look like now.

Look at the poor Pineapple Sage on the right. It was fully uprooted when the tree fell.

I replanted the Pineapple Sage and pruned it up a bit. I am hoping it will come back to the party!

Sweet Stevia overlooking Z Herb Garden (6 weeks) and a peek of …

Drumroll please.

Get your glasses raised and say hello to the Summer Salsa & Pesto Garden!

The Summer Salsa & Pesto Garden (8 weeks)

Summer Salsa & Pesto Garden 2010:

Assorted Peppers,
Capiscum annum
Rainbow Mix, sweet
Cherry Peppers, sweet

Black Rum, Heirloom
(4) Old German, Heirloom
(2) German John, Heirloom
(2) Whopper


(2) Lemon, Ocimum × citriodorum
(4) Basil, Ocimum basilicum
Red Ruben, Ocimum basilicum ‘Purpurascens’
Dark Opal, Ocimum basilicum ‘Dark Opal’

Garlic Chives, Allium tuberosum
Onion & Pearly Chives, Allium schoenoprasum
Society Garlic, Tulbaghia violacea
Salad Burnet, Poterium sanguisorba
Epazote, Dysphania ambrosioides
Italian Parsley, Petroselinum crispum
Vietnamese Coriander, Polygonum odoratum
Strawberries, Fragaria x ananassaQuinalt’
African Marigold, Tagetes erecta

Hola jarden! The Salsa and Pesto Garden at 4 weeks.

Due to our late season garden start, we were limited to what we could plant and viably grow in the summer heat, and decided to go with starter plants instead of seeds. We planted the Summer & Salsa Garden on June 26, 2010. We purchased all of our starters from two of our favorite local nurseries, The Natural Gardener and It’s About Thyme; both have a great selection of organic plants and herbs.

Nine glorious tomato plants = yummmmmmm. (4 weeks)

Look at this lone whopper tomato. Please hurry up and ripen my friend.

Vietnamese Coriander growing beneath the lone whopper tomato (4 weeks). This is a wonderful culinary herb commonly found in Asian and Thai dishes. I just love this plant but it doesn’t seem to be happy planted near the tomatoes. I have not noticed any significant growth since planting the starter.

At 8 weeks, the Vietnamese Coriander is still not a happy party goer – no party poopers allowed! It still does not appear to have new growth and some of the lower leaves appear burnt and dead. I will probably move it to the Z Herb Garden, but would love suggestions. If you have grown this herb with success, be sure to let me know how!

At 4 weeks the Epazote is growing rapidly! A few of the fresh leaves added to beans prevents the dreaded “gas” or around these parts “air biscuits”. Spare the air and give those you love (and those who love you) some Epazote!

Row of assorted peppers. (4 weeks)

At 8 weeks some of the peppers are faring well, however some of the leaves remain yellow, some appear stunted, and none have produced fruit.

This is Salad Burnet (4 weeks). Salad Burnet is a water loving plant, tender perennial, and great salad herb with a crisp and light taste reminiscent of cucumbers. I was excited to have this plant in the garden, but when I got home

I found it like this (8 weeks). Poor Mrs. Burnet. Be sure that she get’s lot’s of H2O!

Strawberries in my mouth soon – oooh yeah! (4 weeks)

Twilight peppers, so pretty and HOT! Some are falling off and are ready to harvest. (4 weeks)

At 8 weeks the garden is full and lush.

One of my worries has been the heat and the possibility of it causing a dreaded “tomato dormancy”. I did NOT want this, and DON’T want this, so I put a thick pile of organic mulch around the base of each plant. This keeps the tomato plants cool and keeps moisture and nutrients around the plants.

The mulch pilings really seem to be working, and all of the tomato plants are looking great. I staked them with bamboo and natural twine.

I am looking forward to a bounty of tomatoes this year and this whopper tomato is taunting me. (8 weeks)

At 8 weeks, I am finally getting some strawberries,

this one says “eat me”. Don’t mind if I do.

A close-up of some of the beautiful flowering and thriving basil (8 weeks). The basil and tomato plants are very happy and are loving the full sun and Austin climate.

Basil for days!

It is so nice to have fresh basil. The abundant basil has been keeping the bees busy and providing big batches of my yummy Texas Pecan Pesto.

Basil in full bloom!

Our Summer Salsa & Pesto Garden 2010!

Z beautiful Herb Garden!

All the hard work and preparation in Part 1 has really payed off! What a great way to end summer and celebrate the start of our garden. This is just the beginning…exploring, learning, and celebrating nature, gardening, and y’all. I am looking forward to creating some fabulous soaps and zesty dishes with this year’s herbs and veggies. The tomato harvest will be a main garden party event! I just noticed that the lone tomato is starting to turn. Yesterday, it was yellow with a tinge of red. Chunky Salsa anyone? Oh and the glorious basil – my first Texas Pecan Pesto batch of the season, so yummy, has already made it’s way into the mouths (along with a killer lasagna) and homes of a few lucky friends. My Zesty Kitchen is calling to me with loads of basil still in vases…and I have already started thinking about fall and winter crop planting. We will probably design a cold frame for the main bed as well as choose some winter hardy veggies. I can’t wait!! If you have plant suggestions or gardening tips and wanna share, or are a local plant nerd like myself and interested in sharing cuttings, shoot me an email or use the comment section below. Thanks a big bunch.

Until Next time…
Your Zesty friend, Robyn