Mary K. Stickley is a horticulturist, landscape designer and a certified arborist through the International Society of Arborists. She has worked in a wide variety of aspects of the horticulture industry and currently works as Manager of Gardens and Grounds for the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester, Virginia. She also owns and operates Countryside Consultations, providing ideas and information to assist homeowners in their gardening endeavors.

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Garden Profile: Herbal Remedies
by Mary K. Stickley       #Garden Profile

What do you do when you have a passion for distinctive foods and a love of beautiful spaces? You do what Tom Hamlin and Don Haynie did, and put the two passions together to create an herb garden. And what an herb garden!

Falling back on plant history and herbal usage, they designed a series of garden rooms that use every herb imaginable. But just as the flavor of a great meal is improved by feeding the eyes, the herbs in this garden also feed your soul.

The vegetable garden provides fresh side dishes for the table and is filled with those wonderful annual herbs that we can’t live without. Basil rubs shoulders with parsley and cilantro, and all are right there next to the vegetables that they season so perfectly — one-stop shopping, if you will.

There is the “Sage Walk,” as much a tour of fragrance and texture as a library of the many sage plants available that grow in our valley. Although all sages smell like sage, who knew that they all smell different?

Even the pots and planters contain herbs. A planter of lemongrass punctuates the entrance to the “Sage Walk”.

“Lavender Hill” is a continual dance of bees and butterflies, a mesmerizing blend of motion and activity mixed with the drone of a lazy summer day and the peace of a long, restful night.

Visit the Mediterranean through the thyme, mint and oregano that thrive in this garden. Raised beds contain these known garden bullies and hold them within easy reach for harvesting. Rosemary accents make this spot the essence of Middle Eastern culinary perfection.

The “Perfume Walk” sports roses, pines in bonsai form, lavender and even frankincense — some of the herbs and flowers necessary for making perfumes.

An instant mood transformation occurs when you enter the “Ruined Abbey.” The thyme-coated stone walls and chimes create a clearly defined space.

And resistance is futile when tucked up on a bench in the “Ruined Abbey.” The thyme growing between the stone walls and paving oozes spice, while the deep vibration of the chimes brings somber meditation and an easing of mental stress. Calm prevails in your soul as you move along through the space. And finally, a slow pace through the labyrinth solidifies the healing taking place in your innermost being.

After a visit to this garden, one can understand the power of fragrance and all it can do to excite, incite or simply slow the pace of an average day. It can energize or relax, sooth or relieve.

And it is also certain that each herb here has been tasted in every possible ways. Flavor reigns supreme with each of these plants, and the owners are fully aware of each of the herb’s best uses and attributes.

And yet, this garden is not just a cook’s garden — it is also a paean to beauty. Every plant was carefully and lovingly tucked into its home to show it off in its best form, and attention was paid to its neighbors to assure that the association visually improved each plant. This garden truly feeds and restores all your senses.



The rounded beds, repeated by the glass orbs, scream out the theme of the “Celestial Garden.”

Enjoy potted lemons and olives alongside oregano, mint and thyme, while strolling the path of the “Mediterranean Garden.”

Close attention was paid to texture and color. Note the contrast between the sharp edges of the boulders that are softened by the cushiony mat of chamomile, the color echoes between the chamomile flowers and the silver-blue lavender foliage.

Herbs and salad greens fill this patio plant bed within easy reach of the kitchen door.


(Photos courtesy of Mary K. Stickley.)


Posted: 06/18/12   RSS | Print


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