Growing Up

Convenience, esthetics and fresh organic taste all come into play in Nick and Avril Ward’s inventive vertical herb garden.

The garden sports an abundance of fresh herbs, which the Bodden Town couple use daily in tea, salads and fresh-baked bread.

“It’s extremely rewarding to harvest food that you have grown,” says Avril. “It’s going back to nature, and the nice thing is it is organically grown.”

Avril Ward's vertical herb garden
Avril Ward’s vertical herb garden

The garden is just steps away from the kitchen, making it convenient for cooking as well as maintenance.

“It’s so close to the house, which makes it really easy,” says Avril. “I know I wouldn’t use them if they weren’t so close to hand.”

Indeed, their other herb garden wasn’t harvested as much as it was located further from the home.

The couple upcycled wooden pallets which they got from Jacques Scott Wine & Spirits, where Nick works as financial controller. His co-worker, Mario McGowen, built the frame for them.

Avril sourced pots from A. L. Thompson’s and various seedlings from Vigoro. Some of the herbs she planted from seed, while others came from the farmers market, supermarket and Department of Agriculture. Others she culled from her fridge, including spring onions and beets that were growing old.

The garden includes chives, onions, thyme, basil, rosemary, mint, sage, parsley, peppers, salvia, aloe vera and cilantro.

“Chives and basil are the two I used the most,” she says. “I also use the leaves of the beets for juicing – we juice every day – and I use fresh mint in my tea.”

The garden wall also benefits from Avril’s creative touch. An artist, Avril incorporates items she finds from her beach strolls – such as driftwood, coral and sea fans – as well as ceramic fish from a trip to Mexico. It is also accented with small flowering plants.

“It’s a quaint mini-paradise,” she says. “I really enjoy it. It’s so pretty when the light comes in.”

Avril Ward with fresh oregano
Avril Ward with fresh oregano

That was one of the main reason she wanted a vertical garden – it’s not only close to the kitchen, but she can also view it from her art studio.

“My studio opens onto the driveway, and I wanted something pretty out there instead of seeing cars all the time,” she says. “And I wanted herbs – the others were too far away from the house.”

She says the garden is easy to maintain – just daily watering and pruning dead leaves – and are inexpensive to create as wooden pallets are readily available.

Avril says growing herbs often comes down to trial and error, but she soon learned what plants worked best and where, and their water requirements.

Avril is pleased with the results, as she confesses she’s not much of a green thumb.

“I’m not a huge gardener,” she says. “My theory is if it grows in my house, it’ll grow anywhere.”

The vertical walls offer flexibility, she says. “You have a huge amount of space because you can use both sides. One side is semi-shade and the other is full-sun.”

Aside from fresh herbs at their doorstep, the garden has other benefits.

“It’s really nice to tend,” says Avril. “I find it very therapeutic.”