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What Is Going On in the Herb Demo Garden?

By September 29, 2023Beet 2023 10 October

By Colet Allen and Herb Garden Team

At the end of 2023 Practicum, Jory Kaplan and I became Co-GEMs of the Herb Demo Garden to rescue it from its sad state of overgrowth with oregano. We had others who wanted to join us, so a team was built. Shirley Wentworth, the previous Herb Garden GEM, generously helped us with identification of what was left after the oregano invasion, even though she was struggling with a major shoulder issue. She gave us her notebooks and lots of historical information on the garden. She still comes occasionally to check on our progress and we are grateful for each visit.

There is a big rose bush in the middle of the garden and the team discussed its future. Due to limited space, our plan was to remove it eventually. Joanne Mitani researched with her Rosarian friends and let us know this should be a keeper. It is a Black Cherry rose from Jackson & Perkins, patented in 2006. There is a 20-year patent on it, so we have until 2026 before that patent expires and we can propagate the rose. It is not a climber and should only be about 3’ tall. We are pruning it back to its expected size and will determine what to do with it next year. Thanks, Joanne, for the research and education on this beautiful and happy thriving rose.

Our concepts and guiding ideas are:

  • To consider labor and aging backs by making the garden as maintenance free as possible.
  • To make it truly a demonstration garden, show several different gardening techniques that will support growing herbs. The various ideas were barrels, a rock garden, a terraced container area, raised beds, and inground planting for larger and taller plants. It was not our goal to make a traditional Herb Garden but something providing more educational opportunities.
  • To incorporate art into the garden. We hope our efforts will be a positive visual addition to the Entry Garden for the front of SOREC.
  • To base the refurbishing effort on team decisions and collaborative work.
  • To bring in friends and relatives who want to work in the garden to join us.

We have been able to address our main ideas and goals. So far, we have received a donation of four wine barrels that we are preparing for Cultural Kitchen Gardens – Mexican, Indian/Middle Eastern/African, indigenous (potentially) and teas. Over time we may rotate the plants in the barrels as we discover different cultural herbs that will grow in our region.

We may use metal stock watering tanks rather than building raised beds. We received an offer of a donation of two tanks that we felt would accommodate our needs. We will paint and decorate these tanks and make them more appealing to the eye.

The container terraced area will be addressed later in the year, and we have a donation for materials and the potential for an individual to help construct that phase of the project.

Finally, Grace connected us with a Community Collaborative Citizen Science group called Oregon Season Tracker.  She has installed a sanctioned rain gauge in the Herb Garden and will be monitoring and reporting the information gathered. This puts us on the map with a nation-wide effort. There are other Citizen Science projects and, for some of them, Master Gardeners can earn hours with these organizations. If you are interested talk to Grace.

Rain gauge on the right.

We are developing a list of seeds to grow next spring. We will be looking for donations if you have some available. The babies that we captured from the original herb garden and the Practicum donations were placed in the nursery and have mostly done very well. Now that the weather is cooler and rains are in our future, we transferred those to the garden and they will be transplanted in their permanent locations in the next few weeks.

In addition to our two-legged friends, we are delighted to see pollinators, frogs and small black lizards enjoying the garden.

We are grateful (Thank YOU) for those who have volunteered and hope that their experiences inspire others to give us a try.

Specifically, thanks to everyone who worked to get the donation of the wine barrels, especially Nicole, Brian, Marie, Monette, Mark Hoffmeister and Padigan’s Winery. Mark and Monette also prepared the barrels so that they could be used for planting. It takes a village. Also, the stock tanks to be used as raised beds were donated my Jory Kaplan and Marie Carbone. These donations are greatly appreciated and have put us ahead of our expected refurbishing time schedule. The major items remaining will be plants and seeds.

I have also been told that there is a large pile of rocks on site under the cherry tree. Now I must locate that cherry tree. It will be a lot easier to pick them up in wheelbarrows on site and wheel them to our garden. The Rock Garden will be our fall and winter project and will hopefully be ready for planting next spring.