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This is one of my favorite gardening projects. This DIY herb garden is both beautiful and practical. It is an herb garden and patio table in one! And it is super easy to make!

Make your own herb garden and patio table in one with these super simple directions with Carmen Johnston Gardens

Make your own herb garden and patio table in one with these super simple directions with Carmen Johnston Gardens

Snip and clip fresh herbs.

Materials Needed:
Iron table top
Strawberry jar
2 bags of bark
2 bags of soil
Rosemary and Thyme
Bubblegum Petunia and Creeping Jenny

Make your own herb garden and patio table in one with these super simple directions with Carmen Johnston Gardens

Directions:
1. Make a layer of bark in the bottom of the strawberry jar. This will prevent you from having to use a ton of soil.
2. Choose soil with a time release fertilizer. Then use it to create another layer on top of the bark. Stop adding soil just 2″ inches below the top of the jar.
3. Remove about half of the root ball on all of your herbs and then begin planting on the outside of the jar.
4. Use only one 4″ plant per cup on the outside of the jar.
5. Add creeping jenny to the top of your strawberry jar. This plant fills a space out nicely so you will only need three.
6. Add your table top and a few chairs to complete the look.

 

I love this mix of decorative plants and herbs. Both work so well in the strawberry jar too! Also, I don’t think you can find a better table for your patio anywhere. Like I said before, this DIY herb garden is both beautiful and practical and that is what gardening is all about!

5 Plants for Beginners: Mint

Be sure to check out this delicious cocktail herb garden.

As the mercury climbs for most of the country, my mind daydreams of sitting in the shade with a cool and refreshing cocktail in my hand. What do cocktails have to do with gardening you ask? Everything! “Garden to glass” is a huge trend taking place for mixologists across the country and by adding a couple herbs to your garden beds you can mix up your own favorite drinks for the summer. There are several herbs that can take your cocktail from blah to ta-daa. Take mint, for instance, without it what would a mojito do? The drink would fall flat and just be plain boring, but with mint it screams summer and digging your toes in the beach sand. Here are 5 herbs that you should consider for your garden to accessorize all your summertime cocktails:

Mint

Now there are several different varieties of mint – chocolate, orange, mojito, pineapple, spearmint and peppermint to name a few. Smell and taste the different kinds that you prefer. Mint can be used in all kinds of cocktails from mint juleps to mojitos. When growing mint, make sure to place it in a container as the plant is very vigorous when placed in the ground and can be very difficult to get rid of in the future; if you desire. It’s a great plant for the beginning gardeners because it thrives. It is happiest when planted in partial sun/shade (4+ hours of UV rays) and kept moist. That means that using a large container would be an excellent idea as it won’t dry out as quickly as something smaller.

Close-up of Mint leaves

Close-up of Mint leaves

Thyme

Again there is a number to choose from, but I prefer the variegated version (Thymus x citriodorus ‘Variegata’) as the leaves look gorgeous in the garden. Thyme is wonderful to flavor simple syrups that can be used in cocktail recipes. It makes for an exquisite garnish as well. The recipe below – Strawberry Thyme Lemonade with a splash of vodka makes for an excellent refreshing cocktail in the summer. Thyme is a perennial and prefers full sun (6+ hours of UV rays) with well-drained soil. It is a very easy-to-grow plant and holds its leaves in the winter; making it perfect to flavor soups and stews during the cold months. A very well-rounded herb to add to the garden.

Strawberry Thyme Lemonade with a Splash of Vodka

Strawberry Thyme Lemonade with a Splash of Vodka

Lavender & Rosemary

These two herbs in combination make the most lovely infused vodka. Just add 1 sprig of rosemary and 2 sprigs of lavender per 3 cups of vodka and the cocktails recipes are endless from a simple vodka martini or tonic to a Mary Rose Martini, Tea Tini or Vanilla Rose.

Lavender is a perennial, if grown in USDA zone 6 or higher. (Find your zone, here). In zone 5, plants may overwinter, but it depends on the variety and weather conditions during the winter. Lavender prefers to be grown in full sun and well-drained soil. It is extremely drought resistant once established. ‘Hidcote’ and ‘Munstead’ are considered to be two of the hardiest English varieties.

Rosemary is quite easy-to-grow and fairly low maintenance. Loves full sun with extreme tolerance to high heat. Prefers dry soil, but should be placed in a container to bring indoors if not gardening in zones 7 to 10. If you garden in these zones, Rosemary will overwinter well. The hardiest varieties being ‘Arp’, ‘Hill Hardy’ and ‘Albiflorus’ (or sometimes referred to as ‘Albus’).

Lavender & Rosemary Infused Vodka

Lavender & Rosemary Infused Vodka

Lemon Verbena

Lemon is one of my all-time favorite flavors. Lemon verbena can be used much like mint and mottled for a cocktail. This Lemon Verbena Spring Fling cocktail sounds very similar to a mojito, but full of my favorite flavors. I’m sure the gin could be substituted with vodka or rum. The key in growing lemon verbena is good drainage, like annual verbena, it prefers to be dry compared to wet. So take care and do not overwater. Giving it an organic fertilizer every four weeks will greatly enhance its growth as it will the other herbs listed above. When planted in full sun it yields the best vigor and most flavorful leaves. Place it where you brush by it to send a beautiful, citrus fragrance into the air. Lemon verbena will overwinter in zones 8 and higher with extra mulch for protection during the cold months and remaining dry during these months is key.

Image credit: Bonnie Plants

Close-up of Lemon Verbena leaves. Image credit: Bonnie Plants

Let’s celebrate summertime with this wonderful recipe from Real Simple Magazine:

Strawberry Thyme Lemonade

Boil 1 cup sugar, 8 thyme sprigs, and 1 cup of water in a small saucepan, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. Let cool and discard the thyme sprigs. Combine the thyme simple syrup, 1 quart strawberries (hulled and sliced), 1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice, and 5 cups of water in a large pitcher. Chill for 30 minutes (or up to 12 hours). Strawberry flavor intensifies the longer it is chilled. Serve over ice, garnished with additional thyme sprigs. Splash of vodka is optional.

Strawberry Thyme Lemonade and muffins make for a wonderful afternoon snack.

Strawberry Thyme Lemonade and muffins make for a wonderful afternoon snack.

I hope that you will join me in the “garden to glass” movement and add some of these flavorful herbs to your garden to enjoy with your next summertime cocktail.

Cheers!

Want to turn a strawberry jar into something that can be used for entertaining? Then when you’re guests ask you where you got this fabulous piece – you can let them know that you made it yourself! Here’s what you will need for this DIY project:

– An Iron Table Top

– A Large Strawberry Jar (24″ tall x 22″ wide)

– 2 bags of Pine Bark (1.5 lb)

– 2 bags of Potting Soil (1.5 lb)

– 9 – 4″ plants including 2 Thyme, 2 Trailing Rosemary, 5 Decorative plants including 2 Supertunia Vista Bubblegum Petunia and 3 Creeping Jenny (feel free to substitute)

– 4 wooden folding chairs

– 36″ round piece of glass (optional)

Instructions:

First take your pine bark and put it into the bottom of the strawberry jar. Doing this ensures proper drainage and reduces the cost of the project because you are able to buy less potting soil. After you have filled the strawberry jar up part way, add your potting soil. You want to make sure to select a potting soil (instead of compost) with a time-released fertilizer, which will really help your plants perform. Feeding the soil into the side cups is an important step for planting.

Carmen & Lacey adding pine bark first to the bottom of the container.

Carmen & Lacey adding pine bark first to the bottom of the container.

The next easy step is to get the herbs and flowers planted. Start with the plants that you will be putting in the side cups. For ours, we have selected Thyme, Trailing Rosemary (Rosemarinus officianalis ‘Prostratus’), and Supertunia Vista Bubblegum Petunia. By selecting herbs, it will add a beautiful fragrance while you are enjoying outdoor meals with family and friends. Before planting the herbs, ripe off half of the root ball to make sure they are small enough to fit into the side cups. Don’t be afraid to do this – herbs are resilient and will recuperate quickly. To not overcrowd and give your plants plenty of space to grow, using 4″ plants will be just right for this project.

Simply go all the way around your strawberry jar until every side cup is planted rotating between the herbs and flowering plants. Make sure each cup is filled to the top with soil. After a week of watering, double-check that the soil level is the same as when it was first planted as it tends to escape. If not, add more soil to the side cups to ensure a healthy home for your plants.

Rotate your herbs and flowering plants when filling side cups.

Rotate your herbs and flowering plants when filling side cups.

When planting the top of your strawberry jar, make sure the soil is about 2″ below the rim. Take your Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’) and plant it in the top. This is a great trailing plant and won’t grow very high; making it the perfect plant for this project. Three plants are plenty to fill the top planting because it will fill in very quickly.

Three Creeping Jenny will work great for this project.

After everything is planted, give your container garden a good drink of water. Now it is time to enjoy your beautiful container garden as a table. Place four, inexpensive folding chairs around it, add the iron table top and its time to have a garden party! If you would like, add a 36″ round piece of glass to the top of your table when entertaining for a finished look and remove it when guests have gone home.

Your beautiful finished project – a gorgeous, patio table with an container garden as the base.

Invite some friends over for a garden cocktail party and show off your new work of art. Enjoy!

Carmen

Here’s a video to show the simplicity of the project!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3I9U90S8lc]

Inquire About Your Next Event:

Email: carmen@carmenjohnstongardens.com

Phone: 762-822-7696