Beautiful gardens are often designed to create vertical depth, not just with plants, but with various hard structures like rock walls, boulders, terracing or other features that either stabilize an existing slope or create something vertical in an otherwise flat landscape. Landscape designers tend to duplicate structures that occur naturally and use plants that have adapted to trail vertically in such places. We often refer to these plants as “spillers” or “cliff hangers.” One of these plants I’ve enjoyed tremendously over the past few years is Rosemary officinalis ‘Huntington Carpet’, which cascades gracefully over walls and spills down the sides of containers. ‘Huntington Carpet’ was developed and introduced by the Huntington Botanical Garden in San Marino, California. It plunges steeply over vertical drops, staying very tight to the wall face, as if holding on for dear life. It will trail down 4-6 feet from the rooted base.
The plant blooms from early February to mid-May with lovely powder-blue blossoms that are irresistible to early pollinators. It is very drought tolerant and resistant to deer and other pests. ‘Huntington Carpet’ is extremely low maintenance, requiring little or no pruning. It can also be planted on level surfaces, where it simply becomes a spreading groundcover reaching 6-12 inches high and spreading 4-6 feet.
I love the fact that, along with its ornamental qualities, it is a culinary herb. I love to cook and use rosemary often, especially in potato dishes and on meats. I am a great fan of incorporating edibles into my landscape, right along with strictly ornamental plants. Brie Arthur, author of “The Foodscape Revolution,” has been a friend of mine for many years. I discussed this article with her, and she kindly offered this thought. “Foodscaping is an easy opportunity for people to take advantage of their existing landscape. For first time gardeners, it affords them then opportunity to experiment without the cost of developing an entirely new garden space. Overall, Foodscaping is a practical and pretty technique to enhance the ornamental landscape and offer delicious, convenient harvests.”
For reasons of its ornamental beauty, it’s culinary usefulness and because it’s so easy to grow, Rosemary officinalis ‘Huntington Carpet’ deserves a place in your production schedule and is sure to delight gardeners and chefs alike.