Living Well

Spring Gardening Trends {a guest post}


As the weather warms up in Alabama, I guess you could say I have a case of spring fever.  I asked Hilary Ross, a longtime friend and a landscape designer/horticulturist here in Birmingham, Al, to give us a few gardening trends for the spring.   

Take it away, Hilary….. 

 Like interiors, landscapes evolve over time and certain trends become evident.  In landscape design, EDIBLE LANDSCAPES are a trend that will continue to rise in popularity where edibles will be featured alongside our favorite annuals, perennials, and shrubs.

Thyme, Rosemary, Lettuce and Eggplant mix in a border with purple petunias (photo by Saxon Holt/PhotoBotanic)

Which edibles should a first-time gardener try? 

 I asked Charlie Thigpen, former Garden Editor of Southern Living and the mastermind behind several naturalistic plantings featured in many different magazines, about his favorites.  Here is what he suggested:


Try these top three, whether in a pot – or in a border.

CHIVES have grasslike leaves with either rosy-purple or white (garlic chives) flowers.  Pretty enough to use alongside your blooming annuals and perennials while tasty enough to be snipped and use in salads, cream cheese or butter.

Chives and pansies look great together

Garlic chives have a beautiful white bloom

BASIL thrives in our hot, humid weather, performing better when it is regularly harvested, and seemingly grows overnight.

I like sweet basil – with lush green leaves and milder flavor.

Charlie likes ‘Spicy Globe’ basil seen here next to Thyme because it stays compact and is flavorful.

Is this coleus? No!  It is ‘Red Rubin’ Basil which blends magnificently with fall marigolds.

THYME is perfect as a low edging or container plant and it seasons vegetables, shellfish or poultry.

I have Lemon Thyme, which has a vibrant green leaf edged in gold. It has been in the same pot for two years!

Another favorite is Silver Thyme, which is stunning mixed with creams and purples! See it nicely paired with the purple Heuchera?


Instead of buying flavorless grocery store veggies, why not try and grow some of your own this year? Some favorite vegetables to try:  Okra, Eggplant and Tomato.

‘Little Lucy’ Okra

Charlie Thigpen’s Garden Gallery sold out of this vegetable plant last year and he said this dwarf red okra looks as great as it tastes! It will work in a container and looks great on porch and patio — and then you can enjoy the harvest! Beautiful, creamy hibiscus-like blooms yield gleaming burgundy pods abundantly all over this compact 2-3 foot plant.

‘Ghostbuster’ Eggplant

Eggplant is generally a dark purple color; however, different varieties of eggplant may range from indigo to white such as ‘Ghostbuster’ pictured above. The term eggplant originated as a description of white colored eggplants because they look like eggs.

‘Ichiban’ Eggplant has a beautiful purple bloom and slender, prolific fruit

‘Tiny Tim’ Tomato

After winter, we can’t wait to sink our teeth into the first homegrown harvest of these sun-ripened fruits. Popular ones include ‘Cherokee Purple,’ ‘Brandywine,’ ‘Beefsteak,’ ‘Better Boy,’ ‘Park’s Whopper’ and ‘Mountain Pride.’  If you like cherry tomatos, try selections such as ‘Black Cherry,’ ‘Sweet Million,’ ‘Sun Gold’ or ‘Yellow Pear.’ ‘Tiny Tim’ is a dwarf selection that’s well suited for containers.

Thanks, Hilary, for sharing yours and Charlie’s thoughts on spring gardening trends.  If you would like to know more about Hilary, you can find her on Facebook, subscribe to her blog at or contact her via email at

Have a great day, everyone-


RESOURCES used in this article include:    Charlie Thigpen’s Garden Gallery –