Friday, July 9, 2010

Herb Wall

I’m happy to introduce Plant to Plate’s guest blogger, designer Tres Fromme. Tres has worked with the Garden on many exhibitions and projects over the past few years including Moore in America, Orchid Daze, the Southern Seasons Garden, as well as the new additions: Cascades Garden, Storza Woodland Gardens, and the Edible Garden. He is an Associate with MESA Design Associates in Dallas, Texas and leads the firm’s Public Garden Studio. With degrees in both horticulture and landscape architecture, he possesses a unique combination of artistic sensibility and plant knowledge. One of Tres’ favorite parts of leading the design team for the Edible Garden was envisioning the living Herb Wall which he writes about below.

Functional Aspects of the Herb Wall

The Herb Wall is an iconic element of the Edible Garden. It is also one of the most practical components and serves several important functions. The planters holding the living part of the Wall hang on a CMU (concrete masonry unit or cinder block) wall. The height and thickness of the Wall deflect noise and exhaust from the greenhouse fans behind the Edible Garden. Without the barrier the Garden would be a noisier and windier place. The Wall is a perfect example of creatively turning a necessity into an asset.

The Herb Wall adds much needed square footage in the relatively small space of the Edible Garden. Building upward creates a planting space with unique characteristics. The wall faces west and captures the warm Atlanta sunshine. The “soil” mix in the hanging planters drains quickly. The irrigation system allows for relatively controlled watering (we hope!). All these factors allowed us to feel comfortable planting evergreen herbs that might otherwise suffer in Atlanta’s heat, humidity, and rain.

Aesthetic Aspects of the Herb Wall

The Herb Wall was one of the most enjoyable parts of the Edible Garden to design. Essentially, we wanted to take a traditional herb garden and get it off the ground so there would be more room for other crops. We also wanted to put a chic and contemporary interpretation on the typical geometric knots and forms of many herbal plantings. Think “living wall paper.”

The Wall encourages a new relationship between people and plants. It creates an immersive and multi-sensory experience. You look up at the herbs rather than down on them. The wall places the plants at heights so people of all heights (and ages) are able to smell and touch the plants with ease.

Imagine a living canvas approximately 55 feet long and nine feet tall! The possibilities seemed endless, until we decided the plants had to meet three major criteria. One, they had to be evergreen so the wall looked good in winter. Two, the plants had to be edible or culinary. Three, they had to be low growing and respond well to regular shearing since we wanted to maintain the Wall as a “flat” surface. Being clip-able also assures raw ingredients for the many cooking programs.

After much searching and discussion, we decided to allow flowers traditionally associated with kitchen or herb gardens. There were just not enough evergreen herbs to offer a broad palette of texture and color. We also wanted to include Boxwood hedges, a time-honored element of herb gardens. All these plants might not be edible, but they are attractive. The major non-herbal plants are: Boxwood, Creeping Phlox, and Bouncing Bet (Soapwort).

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Pineapple Walnut Coleslaw

Cabbage looks beautiful in the garden and it's quick and easy to harvest when you're ready for a fresh dish.  By mid-June, it was time for the red cabbage to come out to make room for summer crops.

Chef Megan McCarthy chose to put a twist on traditional coleslaw and added some pineapple for a refreshing summer flavor.  Take this one to the next bar-b-que and at least one dish on the table will be a healthy choice.

Chef Megan offered shortcuts such as buying shredded carrots and canned pineapple when you need to save some time.

Pineapple Walnut Coleslaw

1 small head green cabbage, shredded
1 small head red cabbage, shredded
1 cup carrots, shredded
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1 cup plain yogurt, Greek-style
Sea salt to taste

Shred green cabbage, red cabbage and carrots.  Combine in large bowl.  Add crushed pineapple, walnuts and yogurt.  Mix thoroughly.  Season with sea salt.

Pineapple Walnut Coleslaw served in an outer cabbage leaf and garnished with flat leaf parsley

Find printable versions of the Garden Chef recipes here.