Grow a Cocktail Garden

Enjoy tasty fresh-from-the-garden beverages this summer -- from lemonades to margaritas -- with this fun garden.

The BHG Garden Editors


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Cocktail Garden
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Garden at a Glance

    You don't need a lot of space to make this cocktail garden; ours was a simple 4- X 4-foot square raised bed in full sun. There's a lot of clay in the Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden, so to keep our cocktail garden healthy and productive, we added a lot of compost to the soil. All of the plants were provided by Bonnie Plants.

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Lime

    An essential flavor for margaritas, lime adds a zesty, fresh taste to drinks and desserts. A subtropical tree, it's best grown in a pot if you live in a cold-winter climate. Move it to a sunny window indoors for the winter where you'll be rewarded with fragrant flowers in spring.

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Lemon Balm

    Lemon balm leaves perks up any drink with a light, citrusy note. This tough perennial is easy to grow and will provide you with a ton of fragrant foliage. Try harvesting a few leaves and freezing them in ice cubes for a beautiful and refreshing treat.

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Lavender

    Lavender, one of the most loved herbs, is often absent from the culinary garden. But use its fragrant purple flowers as a garnish or stirring stick for a martini, or use them to impart an intriguing flavor to lemonade.

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Marigold

    You may not think to cook with marigolds, but signet varieties pack a big punch in their puny petals. Their flavor is a little on the spicy side, so they go great with butters or cream sauces, which temper their punch.

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Golden Delicious Pineapple Sage

    Bold, bright, and beautiful, 'Golden Delicious' pineapple sage has glowing chartreuse foliage and fire-engine-red flowers in late summer and fall -- plus pineapple-scented foliage. Snip a section of stem, cut off the leaves, and use it as a stirring stick or cocktail spear.

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Chives

    Refreshing chives go with just about everything savory -- try them in a bloody Mary, for example. Chives' foliage has a grassy texture, so it looks good with just about everything in the garden, too.

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Mint

    Add a cool touch to any drink with a sprig of mint -- crush it for a delightful minty mojito, freeze it in an ice cube to bring zing to lemonade, or simply use it as a fragrant garnish.

    Test Garden Tip: Mint is a vigorous spreader; many gardeners grow it in a container to keep it from taking over the garden.

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Strawberry

    There's a seemingly endless number of ways to use strawberries in summer drinks -- martinis, daiquiris, and margaritas all come to mind. Or use this sweet, delicious fruit to decorate your drinks.

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Basil

    Basil is one of the most versatile herbs you can grow. While it's a no-brainer for pesto, pizza, and other Italian dishes, try a basil martini or crush it to make refreshing lemonade.

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Husky Cherry Red Tomato

    Tomatoes are a main ingredient in bloody Marys, but don't limit yourself. Float cherry tomatoes in martinis or other drinks for added color and flavor.

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Our Planting Grid

    Here's a grid you can use to create your own cocktail garden:

    A. 1 key lime
    B. 2 lemon balm
    C. 1 lavender
    D. 1 signet marigold
    E. 2 'Golden Delicious' pineapple sage
    F. 2 chives
    G. 2 spearmint
    H. 4 strawberries
    I. 1 basil
    J. 1 'Husky Cherry Red' Tomato

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