RAISED BEDS BRING HERBS TO FAMILY GARDEN
Herbs have been used as medicine and in cooking for thousands of years and are known for their pleasant scents. The growing and cultivation of them is one of the longest surviving traditions around the world.
Chanel Schofield finds out why one Lincolnshire family have given part of their garden a makeover so that they can grow their own herbs in a raised bed…
WHEN the Mills family moved to Fiskerton a year ago they decided to undertake a project to transform their garden.
Work started at the beginning of the year to create a raised bed herb garden for the whole family to enjoy.
Daniel and Connie Mills wanted to create an area which they could enjoy and their children, Stefan (four) and Tomascorrect spelling (17 months), could play in.
The area, which used to be a vegetable patch, now has two octagonal-shaped beds raised about 30 inches from the ground and a path around them.
Mr Mills (36) said that he was attracted to the house because it needed nothing doing to it.
“We wanted to create a garden which could be used by our two young children,” he said.
“We wanted an area where Stefan could ride his bike.
“It was a well maintained vegetable garden and we do like to grow our own vegetables but we wanted a little bit more of a feature in that area.
“It has worked really well.”
Mr Mills works at the University of Lincoln in the animal welfare department and knew that students on the garden design course were looking for a project which they could work on.
He said: “They came to us with various ideas and we liked bits of all of them but we thought none of them were wonderful as a whole.
“In there was the idea of a raised bed herb garden and it went from there.
“We got the concept from the students.”
Mr Mills decided that he would like to surprise his family by creating the garden while they were away.
However, it was a much bigger job than he thought.
In the end it took him four months to complete the work, although he did get a bit of the work done before his wife got home.
He said that it will probably be one of those things that will never be completely finished.
“I decided on some vertical structures in the garden because you always look down at the garden and they take your eyes up.
“They lift your head as you come into the garden.
“There are four of these at the front of the garden, four in the middle and four at the far end.”
Each of the two beds is split into eight sections. One of the beds contains mint, thyme and sage, which have been kept together because they are known to spread, and the other one has had herbs such as parsley, tarragon, dill and coriander planted in it.
Mr Mills said: “The beds are raised just high enough so that you can have a drink in one hand and pull some weeds out with the other hand.
“The children can play on it too.
“We do use the herbs for cooking but they can also produce a lovely scent and some of them are just there purely for that reason.”
Around the two beds there are flower pots and there are also climbing plants on the vertical structures to add a splash of colour.
“There will be some bulbs planted in the winter to add some colour,” Mr Mills added.
“It has worked very well and it brings herbs into the garden.
The idea behind the garden was to give the children something to explore, appreciate and learn from.
“I want the children to learn about nature through the garden and enjoy it. It is important for them to realise there is more to plants.
“And if they fall off their bikes and on to the herbs it will just make the plants bushier rather than killing them.
“Both my wife and myself enjoy being out in the garden and we like to experiment with plants.”
Herbs are easy to grow and like other plants there are annuals such as basil and coriander and perennials such as mint and fennel.
Annuals will bloom for one season and then die but perennials will bloom every season.
There are also woody perennials such as rosemary and sage and bulbs such as chives.
Herbs can be grown anywhere. They can be planted in a herb garden as the Mills family have done or kept in pots. Herbs will grow best in a hot and sunny area and prefer well-drained soil.
Mr Mills would also like to develop other areas of the garden and bring out features that are already there.
“There is a lovely old pear tree in the garden and an old clematis growing through it,” he said.
“The raised herb beds have brought it back into the garden and earlier in the year when the clematis dropped all its pollen the pear tree began to come to life.
“There is an area between the herb garden and the house which we would now like to turn into a play area for the children.”
The garden was one of 14 in the village which were included in an open gardens event to raise money to build a new village hall.
A total of £1,250 was raised by selling programmes at £2.50 each for the public to view all the open gardens in Fiskerton.
“The village hall had burnt down before we moved here,” Mr Mills said.
“We moved from a hamlet because we wanted our children to live in a village community. We wanted to do anything we could to help.
“There were several hundred people who came to look around the garden over the weekend.
“In fact I met more people from the village through that than I had done since we arrived.
“I never thought about doing a major undertaking in the garden before this but it has been very satisfying to do.
“Now all the hard work is done the herbs should look after themselves.
“They are very low maintenance.”