Sunday, October 16, 2011

October 16: Herbs

I planted my first herb garden at the house where we lived the longest when I was growing up. I think I was about 12. My dad helped me build a hexagonal frame for it, and, surprisingly, it flourished. I remember that the key plants were parsley, sage, and thyme, with a clump of mint that grew out of control, chives, and lamb's ears, because I loved how soft and fuzzy the leaves were. I would often find our family cat lounging in the bed of thyme or chewing on the mint, and I was thrilled when my mother would occasionally add my chives to a salad.

In the years since, I've created several more herb gardens, and when I couldn't have an actual garden, tried to keep pots of herbs around the house. When we bought our current house, one of the first things I did after we moved in was to balance out a nice perennial bed that already existed on one side of the front lawn with an herb garden on the other, anchored by a lilac bush that had been a housewarming gift. Six years later, I've got fennel, a couple of different mints, parsley, sage, thyme, lavender, several clumps of chives, echinacea (ok, not really an herb, but I needed something tall), and maybe some oregano out there.

The funny thing is, I don't really do anything with these herbs. Sure, the parsley and fennel were supposedly grown for my husband to use in his cooking, but he never remembers they're there before they go to flower. But I like their unpretentious flowers. And I like the fact that the greenery of my herbs is beautiful, fragrant, and at least potentially useful. When I mow the lawn along the garden's edge and smell crushed lemon thyme or the oniony scent of chopped chives, I always smile. This afternoon I harvested a big bunch of sage and some lavender ostensibly to dry for some future purpose. But really, I just did it because I wanted to breathe in their fresh aromas, to have those scents mingling in the air of my kitchen. And to feel like my garden has produced at least this small bounty.

Handful of sage boughs
trimmed while raking leaves today--
harvest of fragrance.

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