BY OLIVIA CAMERON – Boca Grande Garden Club member Ann Peterson has taken the time to pursue her passions by creating a balance between gardening and cooking. With the help of her husband, Ron, she is proud to have her own ‘Victory Herb Garden.’
Ann has been an active member of the Garden Club for multiple years and has chaired Art in Bloom numerous times. She has also enjoyed partaking in the design of tables for the annual Christmas luncheon, an ‘always sold-out event,’ at the Gasparilla Inn.
Ron and Ann are members and volunteers of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. “We found this area twenty years ago when we brought our boat down from Annapolis, Maryland and stayed at Uncle Henry’s Marina,” said Ann. “We’ve attended St Andrew’s since then.”
“The herb garden concept developed after having trouble finding good quality fresh herbs, and learning from friends that they had no problems with growing them here in Florida,” said Ann. With Ron’s interest in landscaping, the pair decided to grow their own herbs and feed their appetite for garnishing dishes. “One of my passions is cooking,” said Ann. “Ron was on board to build a raised bed for the herbs.” They selected a part-sun and part-shade piece of land to plant the bed. “The area is at the rear of our property, with a slight slope down to a small stream.The soil has a lot of sand, which is good for drainage.”
The pair bought 2 x 4’s and enlisted the help of a friend to create the 4 x 6’ bed. “The bottom layer is organic mulch, and the top layer is Miracle Grow Garden Soil for Vegetables and Herbs. I picked herbs that I use a lot, and that would stand up to our Florida weather,” said Ann.
Ann’s garden is now home to rosemary, boxwood basil, Italian basil, purple basil, flat leaf Italian parsley, Greek oregano and cilantro. “The easiest one to grow is the rosemary, which is very drought resistant and is a perennial evergreen in the mint family,” said Ann. “It anchors the bed.”
The garden is equipped with an automated sprinkler system. The pair also plans to incorporate tarragon, thyme and sage in their herb garden.
Ann claims the rosemary also repels mosquitoes. She has also placed marigolds around the perimeter of the box to deter other animals from chewing up the herbs. “After three weeks, no animal issues. We’re crossing our fingers,” said Ann. “Maybe they are sheltering in place!”