What is a cocktail herb garden? For me, it’s a place where you can sit with your friends or family or dog or cable repairman and inhale the delightful and amazing scents of an herb garden while sipping delicious herbal drinkish concoctions made by your own hand. I’ve been thinking about the possibilities of some such garden. In my wanton fantasies, visitors to my cocktail patio will sip my cocktails with laughing lips and use words like “fabulous” and “gorgeous” and “dazzling” and IT WILL BE GOOD. I’ve wanted to build a cocktail garden for years now and after reading Amy Stewart’s latest book, The Drunken Botanist, I knew the time was right.
Cocktail gardens are a place of warmth and friendship. In my mind, my particular garden needed to be an expansion of my front definitely-too-small patio. If we had more than five friends over, there would be no place to sit [see photo of pre-build patio right]. Twenty people would be standing around on the front porch trying not to elbow each other in the gut.
What I needed to do was find some leg room. By pulling out the plants to the far side of the patio and installing 2×2 tiles from the local supply store in a creative geometric pattern, I was able to expand my patio space significantly [see above]. My goal was to build a non-permanent installation by leveling the soil and placing the tiles directly on top of the ground with no cement or under gravel. Granted each tile weighs 57 pounds and the job was a muscle building challenge, but it all worked out in the end. Each tile is placed 3 3/4″ from the other in a tight geometric formation. Between each tile I put a soil mix of organic soil and additives. I mixed one half Organic Mechanics Potting Soil, one half rotted manure, a handful of Actino-Iron, and a handful of Pure Elements SoilSuccess Renew + Transform in a big wheelbarrow, mixed well, then filled the space between the tiles with it.
Once all the tiles were set and the soil filled, it was time to plant. Sedum, or Stonecrop, is an amazingly hearty plant which survives tough conditions. This makes it a great sustainable choice for between the hot and sunny patio tiles. Intrinsic Perennial Gardens grew the amazing sedum for me and you can order these plants from The Growing Place and Gethsemane Gardens. Planted Sedum varieties include; Sedum album ‘Chlorotietum’, Sedum spurium ‘Leningrad White’, Sedum album ‘Faro Island’, Sedum-ewersii ‘Rose Carpet’, Sedum sexangulare ‘Golddigger’, Sedum ‘John Creech’.
After getting the plants in the ground, I rearranged the furniture to face more of the garden, and added a few seashells in the areas I was not going to plant beneath the chairs. I placed a table and little bar out for ice and glasses. When I have visitors I can add more seating to the area. Then I planted amazing smelling herbs around the patio edges so visitors can take a whiff of the wonderfulness. Walkway and surrounding area around the patio have oodles of Basil, Cilantro, Rosemary, and Lemon Thyme plants. Chocolate Mint, Spearmint, and Oregano can be found in the containers. Best yet, the Territorial Seed Company and Amy Stewart have partnered and put together The Drunken Botanist Plant Collection. They sent me lots of cool plants from the collection which means, of course, that I have herbs growing all over the danged place just waiting for some rum or vodka or gin to make’em a taste sensation.
Thanks to genius author Amy Stewart’s latest culinary cocktail plant book, The Drunken Botanist, my garden has taken a step up in entertainment value. More patio leg room for visitors, lots of amazing and delicious herbal smells, and a whole lotta fun just waiting to happen. You know what this means, right? This patio cocktail herb garden is open for business. Shake’em up and pull up a garden seat – c’mon over and let’s have a relaxing afternoon in the garden (bring friends)!