Plants that arent normally used in a flower garden, such as herbs, can make a very unique effect. This segment demonstrates using a new plant, Boxwood basil, to form a geometric shaped flowerbed.

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Flower Design with Herbs

This is a perfect example of a new plant being used in a unique way. It’s brand new on the market. The green plant is a basil called Boxwood, or Boxwood basil. If we think of the formal gardens of Europe, and how they use the woody shrub boxwood, they always pruned them into small hedges in geometric shapes or patterns. For instance, they were used in knot gardens and other designs.

Here we’re using a basil that naturally grows in a small round ball. We’ve planted them together so they fill in, and we’ve created this diamond shape – much like they would in Europe. The tradition for these patterns is to put something in the center of the geometric shape. We’ve used a red flowered celosia. It really creates a unique garden. If you wanted formal, square hedges, this boxwood could be pruned that way. However, we’ve never pinched or done anything to this. It’s just been planted and forgotten. If you did want to shear it, you could. Then, you would have lots of pesto created from the basil.

These two long beds are really a series of short, display gardens that demonstrate that these plants work together. You can create interesting patterns, or interesting textural changes. It’s also a test, because we know the basil will grow here, and we know the celosia will grow here. But will it grow well in combination? Will one take all the water, or overpower the other one? What will work well? As it turns out, these two are very compatible in this type of arrangement.

This is really an example garden that we’re trying to show people how you can take plants that you might not normally use – in this case, an herb -- and use it in your flowerbed for some very unique effects.

This feature story prepared with Alan Stevens, former Kansas State University Research and Extension State Leader, Horticulture. For more information, visit your local county extension office or visit our website at

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