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Designing your Chicago herb garden

Designing your herb garden calls for careful consideration of all the possibilities available. Before you make any decisions, visit local Chicago herb gardens or even the National Herb Garden in the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, DC. If you can’t visit the nation’s arboretum, take a virtual tour online. Armed with all of these ideas, plan your herbal paradise.

Growing herbs
Photo by Clemens Bilan/Getty Images

The National Herb Garden, dedicated in 1980, was created as a gift to the nation from the National Herbal Society of America with matching funds from Congress. It is part of the National Arboretum. The garden contains numerous species of annual, perennial and woody herbs. It’s actually ten gardens in one. The ten theme gardens are the Dye Garden, Medicinal Garden, Culinary Garden, Fragrance Garden, Industrial Garden, Beverage Garden, Native American Garden, Colonial Garden, Asian Garden and Dioscorides Garden—dedicated to Greek physician, pharmacologist, botanist and author Padanius Dioscorides (40-90AD).

Now is the time to consider your Chicago herb garden. Think of an easily accessible place in your garden where your herbs can receive at least four hours of sunlight daily. Decide what herbs to plant by thinking of the herbs you use often and whose taste you like. You might want to consider planting some herbs indoors in the kitchen. Choose any other varieties you might like to try. Remember your herbal garden can be an ongoing project that you add to every year.

If the shape of your garden’s space has been determined, then create a design within that space. Use the ideas you gathered from your research to help you. Plant your herbs in defined squares, circles or other geometric shapes. Construct narrow paths with stones or bricks so you can reach your herbs easily. Think of the possibilities of raised beds, containers or hanging planters.

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