The Weekly Gardener 1


Memories of Summer

Healing Gardens


The first time I saw an herb garden I thought it weird. Why would one want to waste so much space in the sunshine to grow plants that for the most part don't bloom. I guess my budding gardening instincts weren't very sophisticated.

I grew up with a garden, and a very well kept one at that, grace to my grandfather's horticultural talent, knowledge and decades of experience, but even so, one grew herbs wherever there was space left over, where it wasn't convenient to grow something else, surely they weren't a feature planting.

So I was walking through that perennial herb garden, first trying to find any flowers and then trying to see if I could recognize any of the residents. I couldn't then, not more than a few kitchen herbs. Some I recognized by name, but have never seen, some I recognized by scent, and some I'm still unfamiliar with.

What I didn't know then was that an herb garden is not meant to appeal to the eye, though, as you can see, herbs really do bloom. An herb garden is a garden of scents, and sounds, the buzzing of the bees, the fluttering of wings, it is to be enjoyed by touching fuzzy stems and feeling the coolness of the bruised mint and bee balm leaves on a hot afternoon.

Now, many years later, I have my own patch of herbs and I'm so enchanted with the waves of lavender, umbels of yarrow and sunny smiles of calendulas that I can't bring myself to harvest more than a few stems at a time. I guess enjoyment by sight does happen after all.

Sadly you can't get the country gal out of the garden design, I still tucked my lovage on the edge of the hosta bed. It is what it is.


Summer Glow


Sometimes mid to late winter one starts to look outside and not remember what the garden was like at the peak of its glory. That's usually when one starts going through photos from seasons past and can't believe those images were real.

You can't appreciate the embarrassment of riches nature puts forth during the summer, there is just so much to meet the eye all the time and you hardly have time to keep up with it, but the photos are there, as proof that yes, those were the roses, weighing down the canes, and those were the sunny daisies keeping company to the fragrant phlox, and those peonies really were that big.

My point is that we and nature run ourselves differently. Our lives are linear, nature runs in cycles. What that means, except for the fact that nature's way is better, is that on that February afternoon when you can see nothing but dark and dreary muck, you're three short months away from the most extraordinary garden splendor. How many things in life can you think of that are like that and come with a hundred percent guarantee?

Of course, come spring and summer, the gardener gets caught up in pruning, cleaning and dead heading and forgets to enjoy the beauty of the garden again, and that's when photography comes in handy. You record the glorious sights for later. What else are you going to do in February? Or October, as the case may be.