My main goal in planting my gardens was to spruce up the ugly tree wells, but having fresh herbs was a close second. The basil from the garden has exploded. I've been using it almost every meal. We have so much that the accordion player made a delicious pesto sauce, and I've started drying some in anticipation of the long hard basil-less winter to come. I've also taken cuttings to grow new basil plants. The oregano got off to a slow start. I think part of that was because I put one out of reach of our high tech watering mechanism (i.e. hanging out the 2nd story window with a spray hose); I moved the worrisome plant, and focused on watering them both more. Seems to have paid off lately.
I've had mixed results with my chives, and all three plants are in the same place so I can't figure out what's going on. One is doing great. One is all but dead. The third is about halfway in between.
My other herbs have performed with varying degrees of success. The tarragon has done well and we've made some delicious fish dishes with it, but lately the basil is blocking its sun, so I'm considering moving it. I planted some thyme and mint recently which seem to be doing fine but it's too early to tell. I planted cilantro way too late, and only got to harvest it once. I clipped some rosemary from an overgrown bush down the street, but I think it may be getting too much water in my garden.
I thought I had mediocre results with the peppers, but was wrong. They produced for a while and stopped, then suddenly started again. We've had a lot of hard rains lately so I'm assuming that has something to do with it. The jalapenos are delicious but almost too hot to eat. The serranos and cleverly named "green chili" are a little milder but I don't think the flavor is as good.
Aside from all the herbs, to improve the appearance I added some flowers for color and I put a vining plant in each of the wells and tried to train them to climb the ginkgo trees to give some height to the garden. I put some succulent flowers in the hard to water area, and they have done well. I put various types of phlox which quickly lost their flowers and have continued more or less unchanged. I added a couple of other types of flowers later which did better, but I've completely forgotten their names. The jasmine is doing well and climbing up the eastern tree. The clematis I put in the Western well is doing fine, but doesn't seem to want to stick to the tree.
I've had a lot of fun with this and I'm looking for ways to expand the garden. There are some more or less abandoned beds in front of the parking lot next door which could probably be commandeered, but not easily watered. I've discussed hanging some leafy plants off of El Barrio's awnings, but I'm not sure if that would be messy or too hard to tend. I've also contemplated a guerrilla orchard in a spot that will remain undisclosed for obvious reasons. Finally there's the roof option, which seems obvious but I'm worried about the weight and the less than convenient access.