Circular design encourages exploration
John and I planned the design on-site at the back of the nursery in a virgin pasture sprinkled with wildflowers and a few cedars. For this design, I envisioned a circular garden with larger herbs planted along the outside rim, creating a secret-garden effect from both inside and outside the circle.
We decided on a wide outside circular bed, with entrances at the four cardinal directions. Inside, four curved beds create another circle that surrounds a central raised bed. Visitors can wander in and out of the concentric circles, catching glimpses of the native savanna beyond the garden or of other beds across the circle. The continual flow of the path encourages leisurely strolls through a maze of aromas, colors, and textures.
We found this plan more appealing than a traditional cross or four-square garden because it had no sharp angles, rectangles, or squares. And, instead of being on the outside looking in as you walk by, you become a part of the whole. The garden lends itself to contemplation and relaxation and is the perfect setting for customers and students to smell, touch, and taste herbs as they walk around.
After clearing the land, gardeners at the nursery laid out the 50-foot-diameter circle using string and stakes. The beds of the outer circle (each 35 feet long by 5 feet wide) and the four inside beds (each 14 feet long by 7 feet wide) were edged with native cut-limestone bricks buried halfway in the ground. Crushed granite walkways surround each bed, making them easily accessible for planting and harvesting.
We then raised the circular bed in the center of the garden by making a 3-foottall wall with larger slabs of cut limestone to create a bench. It is essentially a large planter, in which prostrate rosemary trails over the sides and colorful seasonal annuals contrast with the silvery-green hues of most of the herbs. Before planting the beds, we added fertilizer, soil, and compost from John’s Lady Bug line of custom soil amendments, developed especially for Texas soils. We also mounded the beds slightly in the center to provide the drainage herbs require.