Friday, October 26, 2012


Ah! the first days of Autumn and the promise of cooler days to come. Well, not quite yet for central Texas, at least not in the afternoons. But the mornings are cooler and we are starting to think of the fall garden which is really our best gardening season. I would say that rarely a day goes by that I don't go out into the garden to pick herbs to use in cooking. Now is the time to do a little work in the herb beds.

Herb garden
This is my main herb growing area. I have sage, oregano, thymes of all varieties, garlic and regular chives, basil, lemon balm and our Texas tarragon substitute, Mexican mint marigold, Tagetes lucida. Also a few herbs I don't eat but which are technically herbs, santolina and society garlic. Parsley is missing this year because the plants, being biennial, flowered and died and the new seedlings I put in the ground didn't make it. I just bought a replacement parsley plant.

Silver and lemon thyme
One of the things about herbs is that they, like all the other plants at this time of the year, start to send their nutrients back down into the roots. The oils in the tissue become more concentrated which means they freeze at much lower temperatures. We are fortunate to have most of our herbs throughout the winter. If we cut back now then new leaves will form and they will be full of flavor and will also make better cuttings. I have never been much of a pruner but I do prune my herbs constantly. Oregano gets a constant pruning and keeps flushing out new leaves.

Thai basil 
When basil seeds between the pavers I let it stay. This one I cut back a few weeks ago so that it would bush out. It will die during a freeze but the seeds that fall in the cracks will germinate when the weather warms up in the summer.

Mexican mint marigold.
Mexican mint marigold, Tagetes lucida, dies back in the winter but is sure to return to the garden either
as the old plant or as a re-seeder. This one has also seeded in the pathway and will be trimmed to form a rounded bush. It will stay for a few years until it becomes so large as to overstay its welcome.

Culinary or common sage Salvia officinalis
The sage gets a frequent chopping because recently I have discovered how wonderful the leaves are when fried until they are crisp. Wonderful over cheese ravioli. I prefer to use this common sage but at a pinch will use the Salvia Berggarten, below.

Berggarten sage
This sage makes an attractive plant in the rock garden but it does have a tendency to travel so in the spring I remove the newly formed plant and plant somewhere else.

variegated chile pequin
Last year this variegated form of chile pequin showed up. I am happy to see it appear once again. The mockingbirds are welcome to the chiles. In fact they have been having a feast moving from chile pequin to lantana, to beauty berry. I often wonder if it is the same one that comes back year after year because at night he sets up camp in the Lady Bank's rose in the front garden. He has a tough job policing all the gardens but he does manage to chase the other birds away. He may have met his match the other day. The roadrunner came into the garden. I know he's looking for my lizards!


  1. I love herbs--and have been adding more each year. You're so fortunate to be able to keep them so long.....though I wouldn't trade summers with you for the world-LOL!

  2. I agree -- it would be great to have herbs during at least part of the winter, but I'm not taking your summers!

    If you forced me to choose just one herb to grow, thyme would be the one.

  3. I grow a lot of herbs too but sage is one I haven't a fondness for. Maybe I haven't found just the right way to prepare it - I'll definitely try your tip for frying the leaves. Everything is tasty fried, right?! Glad you mentioned it because it's a beautiful plant. It makes a nice accent with it's color and texture.

  4. Perhaps if I had more herbs, I would cook more creatively? The silver thyme is new to me; just found a sole survivor of several lemon thymes dried up long ago! Tarragon won't grow there? - interesting. Informative to me, and what a beautiful space those herbs live in. Roadrunners.....

  5. What a wonderful array of herbs you have in your garden. I love the look of your herb garden as well, and love the idea of strays being allowed to flourish.

  6. That's an excellent selection of herbs. In addition to the parsley, I add dill and fennel for the winter. I wish we could grow them year round. It would be awesome to have dill and cucumbers at the same time.

  7. Your first photo is wonderful, oh to have herbs so handy. I may have to break down and add a raised bed near the bad door to have easy access to herbs. I love sage butter and having fresh sage handy is a delight. Love the roadrunner Jenny!

  8. That is so neat that you have an herb garden among the pavers! So pretty. I love the tip about the fried sage - I'll have to try that sometime! I love seeing the roadrunner (I don't think I knew what one actually looked like before!)

  9. How fun you got a shot of the roadrunner! Does he hang at your house or just a visitor? Ours has "moved in". Been there over a year now. He's such a fun little guy to watch.

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  11. I enjoy herbs and their "look". Currently I am growing parsley, lemon thyme, lemon oregano, sage, curry,basil,and fennel. I have many basil seedlings this spring.

  12. Are you able to keep Thymes going or must your plant new ones periodically? Mine are gorgeous for a while then look so ratty I pull them winter chill--is that the problem?

    Somewhere once upon a time I had sage broiled in butter. Heavenly.

    And your herb garden all looks so beautiful, too!

  13. Oh, your herb bed is so beautiful! Making an herb bed is moving up my list of garden tasks.