A Culinary Kitchen Garden Perfect for Small Spaces

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Herbs are a must in my garden. I use fresh herbs in cooking year round and love to keep them close to the kitchen for easy harvest. Join me as we tour the transformation of my perennial herb container garden to a culinary kitchen garden that looks as beautiful as it is tasty.

See how a culinary kitchen garden was transformed in this garden makeover before and after project

In my previous home, the garden spaces were near the edges of the property. We had a small deck off the kitchen with stairs that led down to a patio space. I created a perennial herb garden in containers for easy access from the kitchen. You can read about it and see the photos of that garden .

When I moved to my current home, there was a perfect in-ground bed ready to become the kitchen garden. The 4-foot by 10-foot space is mostly in full sun and located conveniently just at the base of the stairs leading down from the deck. I lugged over the herb pots from the old house and transplanted them into the soil surrounding a young fig tree that came with the garden. The soil was terrible but I built it up with layers of homegrown compost over the next few years.Herb Garden BEFORE renovation

Bright, direct sunlight and healthy soil proved to be the perfect combination. All of the herbs grew like weeds and before I knew it I had monstrous sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and mint plants all competing to be the tallest and most vigorous in the neighborhood. However, they didn?t have a chance at the title with the fig tree growing in the center of the space. It shot up 10 feet and showed no sign of slowing down. I tried to keep on top of pruning and shaping the fig in hopes that it would respond well; but, in the end, you can?t argue with ?right plant, right place.? It was just too big for the space.Overgrown herb garden BEFORE renovation

It?s not often that you hear of a renovation being needed because things are thriving, but in this case, I needed to rethink what the garden would be in the long term, especially with all of that healthy soil and sunlight. My idea was to add in my favorite everyday herbs with a few special and decorative feature plants for interest. Given the size of the space, I hunted for dwarf or container varieties, as well as those that responded well to pruning.Herb Garden Renovation Planning

My friends over at Monrovia generously provided me with some beautiful dwarf plant varieties that worked perfectly for the space. I reused some of my containers from the previous garden and divided the herbs to give them more Artificial Lawn growing room. Then, I added some annual herbs such as basil and parsley around the perennials for practical and decorative purposes.

Herb Garden Renovation Plan - setting plants in place

Here is what my newly planted culinary kitchen garden looks like now:Completed Culinary Herb Garden Plan


Culinary Kitchen Garden Plant ListBeautiful Culinary Kitchen Garden Yuzu

Yuzu (Citrus ichangensis x C. reticulata) is an interesting thorny, lime-colored tree and a temperate citrus from East Asia. This tree came from one in Japan with a similar climate to the Pacific Northwest / Zone 7. While most citrus requires heat, sun, and at least Zone 8, a yuzu is an interesting addition to my temperate culinary kitchen garden. The fruit is bitter and astringent; used mostly in sauces. I have yet to taste it but the fragrant leaves give me some indication I will use a lot of yuzu in cooking. This dwarf tree will only grow to 6-8? tall and it is cold hardy to 10 degrees F. It is the perfect feature plant to anchor the garden.Yuzu tree close up thorns


Like the yuzu, these two Brazelberries blueberries are also highly decorative, cold-hardy, dwarf, fruit-producing plants.

  •   this compact evergreen blueberry (yes, evergreen!) has colorful summer leaves tipped with peach and deep eggplant purple winter foliage. Oh, and
  •  is even smaller than Peach Sorbet at a mature height of just 1- to 2-feet. It has pointed leaves tinged with red and, of course, delicious blueberries.Brazelberries Peach Sorbet Blueberry


I wanted a dwarf rosemary variety for the garden but decided on one that would respond well to pruning instead. is an upright growing rosemary that can turn into a 6-foot hedge if allowed. Since it responds well to pruning, I plan to keep up with these two plants and harvest a heck of a lot of rosemary throughout the year!Rosemary ARP


I have two types of oregano that share a pot: Hot & Spicy Oregano and Italian Oregano. The Hot & Spicy is fuzzy and has a bit of a bite when raw. When it is cooked it won?t add much spice to a dish so use it like regular oregano. The Italian oregano has a lovely lime green color and it is easily transplanted to the ornamental garden as a groundcover. I only use a little oregano in cooking, but I like to have plenty in the garden to flower oregano


I have two sage plants that have remained in the space. One large silvery sage in the northeast corner of the bed, and a tall sage that has been trained into a 4-foot tall tree. Both provide plenty of herbs for me and flowers for Silver sage

Chives, Nodding Onion

I plant plenty of chives and onions around the garden to . Chives have purple, pompom-shaped flowers that will alternate blooming with the . A nodding onion (Allium cernuum) is planted between the two rosemary plants showing off delicate white blooms that hang upside down.Chives and lavender


My mojito mint is a large-leaf, sweet mint that was labeled only as ?Mojito Mint.? It?s contained in a large plastic pot that overwinters well. I can often harvest a few mint leaves well into November. The dark stemmed chocolate mint is another favorite. It is a division from my mother?s garden many, many years ago. It produces chocolate-scented leaves reliably year after year. As mint can be invasive, I keep it contained to pots.Mojito mint


Lavender is planted throughout my flower garden but I felt it needed a place in the kitchen garden as well. This is a dwarf variety that stays neatly at 12-inches high and wide. I planted them alternately with chives. The lavender can be cut back after blooming to keep its pretty shape and it will rebloom up to three times each year.Cabbage Moth on Lavender


I have a love / hate relationship with strawberry pots. On the one hand, I love how decorative they are and this one filled with , , and  strawberries looks gorgeous. I have been using it to grow strawberries for many years (as can be seen by the patina on the pot) but I have always been disappointed at how the berries in the lower pockets grow. This year, I created a perforated watering tube and now all of the plants are thriving! I expect a long harvest of fresh strawberries this year.Strawberry Jar Irrigation DIY and Thumbelina Lavender

I wrote out the DIY instructions on over on Angie?s List where I also write a blog.


  • Italian flat leaf parsley, curly parsley
  • Boxwood basil
  • Thai basil
  • Pineapple sage

With all of these additions to the new culinary kitchen garden, I?ll be off to a great start with cooking. I?d be eager to hear about any herbs that you grow in your garden that you couldn?t live without. Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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Right now I?m smitten with copper. The rosy hue is cheerful and elegant. It shines so brightly that it seems to belong in the garden. In the summer when the garden is growing well on its own, I turn to garden art projects for my garden therapy. I like to add ornaments for interest to areas that are not blooming and these copper garden art flowers are just the right thing.How to make copper flower garden art using a die cutting machine

Note: this project is sponsored by Spellbinders who provided me with a Platinum 6 machine. What happened next was all my own creation! Garden Therapy readers have a special discount for the new machine as well, so be sure to grab the code at the end of this post. 

How to Make Copper Garden Art Flowers

These copper garden art flowers started when I got a delivery from  in the mail. I opened a * and had absolutely no idea what to do with it. I haven?t scrapbooked or made paper crafts before and I didn?t know there were die-cutting machines that could make quick work of cutting pretty patterns. I set up the Platinum 6 and created a ?steel cut die sandwich? as recommended in the instructions. I cut some paper. Then some felt. Then fabric, wood veneer, and aluminum cans. Almost every material I fed through the machine cut perfectly. The Platinum 6 is very powerful; much more powerful than its elegant looks suggest.Spellbinder's Platinum 6

When I cut the aluminum cans into a daisy, I liked the look and ability to mold the metal. But aluminum just doesn?t have the shine that I was hoping for. I set out to hunt for sheets of copper to make garden art flowers. I found 5 mil (36 gauge) copper sold by the sheet that cut like butter and looks brilliant in the garden beds.Copper Garden Art Flowers DIY Project


Want to make your own? Here is how to do it:


  • 12? x 12?
  • Steel Rule Die:
  • Steel Rule Die:
  • Steel Rule Die:
  • 36?
  • Hand saw

Make it!

Copper is very expensive, so ?measure twice and cut once? to avoid wasting any of this precious metal. Measure the cut pattern on the die, then measure the copper and mark your cuts. Cut the copper to fit the width of the die with little extra to waste.Copper sheet

Make a die cut sandwich with a clear cutting plate, the die facing up, the copper sheet, and a second clear cutting plate. The clear cutting plates are included with the machine; the steel rule dies need to be purchased separately.Copper die cutting with Spellbinder's Platinum 6

Note: don?t worry like I did when you make your first cut and it leaves an impression on the clear cutting plate. I thought I was cracking the plates, but it?s perfectly normal for the steel rule dies to make an impression on the acrylic. After you use the machine a bunch of times, it does end up getting quite marked up.

Feed the sandwich through the Platinum 6 by holding it with one hand and turning the crank with the other. Once the machine ?catches? the sandwich, move a hand to the top of the machine and hold firmly while you turn the crank with the other. This is a powerful cutting machine but it is not difficult to use. Mostly, you provide stability to the machine and let it do the hard work.Contour Steel Rule Die with copper

Take apart the sandwich and remove the copper pieces. I used a few different steel rule dies to make the copper garden art flowers collection. Oopsy Daisy was the easiest to work with as you simply attach the smaller copper flower to the larger one and in one cut you also get a leaf. I also used Floweret Posies and Positively Peony to get some more varied shapes.Copper Garden Art Flowers DIY

After all of the pieces were cut, I laid the flowers out and molded the shapes until I got a look that I liked. I was able to make these five flowers from one 12?12 sheet of copper.Copper Garden Art Flowers DIY

Cut five lengths of copper rod to differing lengths which will act as flower stems. I cut mine fairly short (6? to 10?), but you could get as many feet of copper that you need to make the flowers taller. The easiest way to cut the copper is to use a handsaw. Then, use a metal file to remove any burrs or sharp edges.How to make Copper Garden Art Flowers

I used a metal adhesive for outdoor use to glue the flowers together. This glue requires mixing two substances together and then working within 5 minutes. Use proper safety protection like gloves and a mask when working with chemicals like this.Copper Garden Art Flowers DIY Idea

Lay out the flowers as you plan to glue them in place. Mix the glue and get busy attaching the pieces together. Allow to dry for 24 hours before setting out in the garden.Copper Garden Art Flowers DIY Project idea

These copper garden art flowers will bloom all year round and I hope that the copper will patina into a lovely green color as they weather outdoors.Copper Garden Art Flower - Daisy

*The  will be available August 23, 2016, but you can pre-order one now if you just can?t wait. And here is the best news: Garden Therapy readers get 20% off the Platinum or Platinum 6 until Sep 30. To get the discount, use the code ?GARDEN20? at .

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Small-space gardeners rejoice! These colorful vertical planters contain a garden in just over a square foot of wall space. Vertical gardening like this is not only a smart way to get some extra plants to your garden, but it can turn an old fence into a gallery wall. I filled my vertical planter boxes with annuals that cascade and bloom all season, so the artwork grows throughout the summer. As it fills in the space and drapes beyond, the look changes and the waves of color continue to decorate what was once a rather blah space.DIY Vertical Planters in Frames to add art to a fence (1)

These DIY planters are made from cedar, metal fencing wire, and ornate plastic frames. I made these a few years ago for one of the projects in my book, . If you have the book you can find the DIY instructions on page 48. If you don?t have Garden Made yet, you can  or at your local library.

Living Outdoor Art a framed succulent planter from the book Garden Made

I originally made these vertical planters for succulents, prized for their drought-tolerance. Succulents are easy to care for and grow in wonderfully. Each year since I made them, I have overwintered the succulents in the frames and cleaned them up for the spring. But this year I decided to swap out the succulents and try something new: annuals.

Supertunia Pretty Much Picasso in a vertical planter

Annuals are wonderful plants for adding long-lasting color to your garden. And in most cases they are fairly low maintenance. Just a bit of pruning and deadheading throughout the season and they will fill in and bloom like crazy.

Colorful Vertical Planters with Annuals - living artwork

Plant List

Here are the plants that I used for these colorful vertical planters:

  • Ajuga reptans ?Burgundy Glow?
  • ?
  • ?
  • Nasturtiums
  • Alyssum ?Clear Crystal? in lavender
  • Ipomoea ?Bright Ideas? in black
  • Sempervivum ?Chocolate?
  • Sedum album ?Chloroticum?

goregous vertical planters

Watering for Vertical Planters

To water the planters, take them down a few times each week and water them thoroughly. Leave them for an hour or so until the water is well absorbed in the soil. Then hang them back up and enjoy. I find this to be quite simple to do when watering the garden. If they get really dry in a hot spell, I just leave them down for a few days and give them lots of water. Lessen watering needs by choosing a fence or wall that is not in direct sun. You can save your succulent vertical planters for the hot sunny spots in the garden.

Maintenance for Vertical Planters

As the season goes on and the plants grow, maintenance is simple. Pinch off any spent blooms using your thumb and forefinger. Deadheading like this encourages more blooms and keeps the plants looking tidy. Replace any plants that just aren?t loving the vertical planters. Some plants think you are pretty darn crazy for planting them that way and just won?t cooperate. Don?t worry, there are plenty of plants that do adapt well. I always have great success with hanging basket plants.

Feeding Vertical Planters

Use a slow-release organic fertilizer in the soil when planting and then water once a month with a liquid fertilizer. I follow the same schedule as I do caring for my hanging baskets and containers, so it?s really not much trouble at all.Nasturtium in a vertical planter

Like this project?

Here are some more vertical gardening ideas you might like:

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