Garden Designer Deborah Zimmerman Creates Elizabethan Herb Gardens for Busy Clients

"When designing a garden, my canvas is the ground.
My picture is of the finished garden.
My song is the finished garden."

January 28, 1983

On this day, The Charlotte News shared an article by Edie Lowe called “Herb Garden Just Like Artwork.”

Here’s an excerpt:

To Deborah Zimmerman designing an herb garden is like painting a picture or composing a song.

"You have to orchestrate a harmonious blend of textures and colors and heights.

When designing a garden, my canvas is the ground.

My picture is of the finished garden. My song is the finished garden."


Deborah’s latest design is a formal Elizabethan herb garden in the backyard of the restored Blair-Bowden House on Poplar Street.

Deborah became interested in herbs and spices about 12 years ago.

"I started a little business called Helping Hand Services… planting herbs and spices in people's gardens.

It started out as a means of supporting myself in school. It grew so quickly, and I enjoyed it so much.

I found myself feeling here I am being creative, and I'm getting paid for it.

I’m spreading beauty in yards working with plants and soil - which I love - and I'm getting paid to learn and create."


Deborah is continually studying herbs and spices.

She is particularly fond of designing gardens like those from the Elizabethan era in the 16th and 17th centuries.

"There is not much difference in the Elizabethan gardens of the 18th century and Victorian gardens. The (main) difference is the type of herbs they favored in their gardens.

The Elizabethan Gardens were more apt to have highly scented plants because of the period’s sanitation problems.

They would pick herbs and spread them on the walks and floors.

=As company came and walked on the herbs, they'd be crushed, releasing the scents.

Herbs were the air fresheners of the day."


Because people seldom bathed, scented herbs and spices were worn in pomanders around their necks.

The Victorian era was more sophisticated. Baths became popular. Perfumes and scented water made from herbs and spices were used.

"Victorian people loved rose water. The damask rose was the popular flower then. It is the most highly scented rose there is.”


Deborah’s 4th Ward garden, covering a 10-by-10-foot space, is fashioned with circles and diamonds inside a square.

Each of the four points of the square is finished in a fleur-de-lis pattern.

Deborah used creeping thyme and candytuft as a border hedge for the garden.

The rest of the pattern is carried out with lavender, rosemary, lemon, verbena, aromatic herbs, clove pinks, rose geranium, basil, sage, savory, chives, coriander, and camomile.

The 100-square-foot garden… will cost between $250 and $600.

“The most important thing is to like what you are doing… If you are happy in your work, you tend to grow.”

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