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February 2013

February 25, 2013

Reflections Upon an Herb Garden

from the archives... [updates in italics and brackets]

Closeup of sage flowers in my herb garden
Sage flowers look like itsy-bitsy orchids.

Once upon a time, the kitchenMage had the herb garden of her dreams. Wisteria draped the entrance arbor, opening onto a herringbone path interplanted with thyme and moss and edged with lavender and a plethora of mints. Herbs, both common and rare, filled this garden and new finds were constantly finding their way there. Rare thymes and more mints than she could name filled the beds, and the air, with intoxicating scents. A few choice trees also lived there: the prized sweet bay, a pink dogwood bent near horizontal from its attempts to survive its old home, and the maples (no two the same) that defined the border.

Oh, I'm sorry! I was daydreaming there for a minute.

While I would love to have that herb garden again (and it is worth a look, though I apologize for the old, not so great photos) the sad fact is that I don't. Worse, I won't have anything like it for a few more years to come. [It has been about four years and the garden is still sparse in spots. While I finally have established thyme, my tarragon has never lived beyond its second year. Establishing a garden in a place that gets 10 feet of rain a year is not easy.] A few summers [ha ha ha] from now, I expect to once again walk through a garden like that, although not too much like that.

I have a new house and a new "yard" — if one can call nine acres a yard — but after two years, the new garden remains unplanted. [The herb garden is still confined to the beds around the house, while some trees have made it into the yard. So, yeah, still mostly unplanted.] When we arrived, the little beds around the house's foundation looked like builders had done the planting: some unkempt low junipers and dozens of pansies, in a stunning array of magenta and white--one shade of each. Boring! (When the foxglove and daisies that had been hidden in winter, when we bought the place, first emerged, it seemed fitting somehow that they were also white and purple.)

Frankly, the only thing to recommend the gardened areas was the blueberry patch. The untended space, mostly Douglas firs (originally planted for timber harvest) with fern-laden undergrowth edged up against wild fog forest, has more to recommend it, including the wildlife. At least most of the time.[In what I consider a major victory, the blueberries have been fenced and we get the bounty now while birds screech at us from nearby trees.]

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