Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Planning a garden in Four Squares

Some of my favorite days are spent when it is raining and dingy and I turn on all the lights in my workroom and drag out my favorite garden planning books and start to design gardens.  Sometimes they are gardens for my home, sometimes they are gardens for my patio and sometimes they are gardens for some imaginary house I will own with limitless garden space and someone else who will weed it.

Four Square Garden in Williamsburg
In the process of these imaginings I have come up with several great, reproducible ideas for gardens that I thought I could share.  These may help you with ideas for your own space so do not be afraid to borrow all the ideas you can use.

As will my Cottage Garden Plans there will be several different plans presented over several days so you can see the variety this style provides.  Unlike a Cottage Garden, a Four Square Garden is an organized and symmetrical plan.

This Four  Square garden is in Ohio

My husband and I believe the perfect home will be a four square style bungalow and we have been searching for one for years without much success.  However, in sympathy to this I created a garden space consisting of four even squares joined at the center with a decoration.  Although some days that center changes from a pain path into an elaborate container structure or a three dimensional abstract sculpture. Each of the Squares is its own individual theme garden. I like this design because I could call it my "Backyard Patches."

The squares each measure 9 feet by 9 feet this allows for easy reaching for 3 feet in from each side.  I run a path diagonally through each square to give access the to center spaces.  In one design of this garden I made a each square a different use for the herbs: Bath herbs, Tea herbs, Culinary herbs and Medicinal herbs.

Although many herbs cross over from one category to the other I was still able to fill each space with unique herbs.  And I could choose more unusual medicinal or tea herbs when the basic herbs seemed to end up in the culinary patch.  Here were the plants by section:

Culinary                                                               Tea
   Mustard                                                                     bergamot
   Cilantro                                                                      lemon balm
   Dill                                                                             lemon grass
   Nasturtiums                                                                lemon verbena
   Fennel                                                                        anise hyssop
   Chives                                                                        chamomile
   Marjoram                                                                   hyssop
   Oregano                                                                     mints              
   Parsley                                                                       scented geraniums
   Savory                                                                        catnip
   Tarragon                                                                     Meadowsweet
   Thyme                                                                        marigold, scented

Bath                                                                     Medicinal

   Comfrey                                                                      comfrey
   Chickweed                                                                  feverfew
   Nettles                                                                         penny royal
   Lavender                                                                     sage
   Rosemary                                                                    southernwood
   Sage                                                                            thyme
   Marjoram                                                                     borage
   Chamomile                                                                  valerian
   Roses                                                                           betony
   Aloe                                                                            marsh mallow
   Witch hazel                                                                 sage
   Lady’s mantle                                                             ginger
   Peppermint                                                                  St. John’s Wort
   Lemon balm                                                                Echinacea
   Calendula                                                                    primrose
   Clary sage                                                                   catnip
   Thyme                                                                         eyebright
   Yarrow                                                                        sweet cicely

The numbers match the layout in the photo above.

Another Four Square pattern I crafted was the single plant version.  This one has smaller squares within the squares each one containing multiple varieties of a single species, like Basil, Mint, Lemon, and Thyme (I'll use any excuse to plant a variety of thyme species.)

Here is the Plant arrangement list for the drawing above:

Lemon Herbs
Lemon basil
Lemon balm
Lemon thyme

tulsi basil (holy)
sweet basil spicy globe basil
purple basil
purple ruffled basil
lemon basil
lime basil
basil genovese

Garlic and Onion
onion chives
garlic chives

Common sage
Bergarten Sage
tri-color sage
purple sage
golden sage
pineapple sage (focal)

Thyme varieties
lemon thyme
common thyme
silver thyme
golden thyme
wedgewood thyme
french thyme
english thyme

apple mint
variegated apple mint
pineapple mint
curly mint
Corsican mint

Flowering Herbs
Although most herbs flower, as a dedicated herb grower I usually clip the flower heads off as soon as they arrive, but there are some herbs that you actually grow for the flowers.

Scented Marigold
Mexican mint marigold
calendula (Pot marigod)
pineapple sage
Hyssop and anise hyssop

My favorite by far and the one that took me the most time to complete a design for was a color four square garden.  This one was designed with four complimentary colors and a color matching path.  Rather than put a path down the middle of of each square I made the squares only 6 by 6 feet so you could reach all the plants from the outside path.  Notice However that the colors were not placed in squares but in triangles to get the most attractive contrast when viewed from a distance or from above.

Peruvian sage
common sage
Bergarten sage
silver thyme / wedgewood thyme

Dark green to purple
winter savory
purple sage
purple basil

Bright green
lemon balm
lemon basil
pineapple mint
lemon grass
variegated thyme
variegated mint

golden sage
golden thyme
lemon scented marigolds

With this garden I also planned a center diamond to accent the colors with a tiered raised bed
the bottom tier was dark green with rosemary and creeping thyme, the second tier silver with dusty miller and the third tier was purple and green with purple ruffled basil and red flowering thyme

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