“My love affair with nature is so deep
that I am not satisfied with being a mere onlooker, or nature tourist.
I crave a more real and meaningful relationship.
The spicy teas and tasty delicacies I prepare from wild ingredients
are the bread and wine
in which I have communion and fellowship with nature,
and with the Author of that nature.”
Garlic chives remain one of the easiest of herbs to grow. Plant in full sun, keep them moist, and they will grow indefinitely. A perennial herb, the stand of chives grows a bit larger each season. All parts of the plant are edible, and leaves can be snipped year round to season in cooking. Chives are especially nice mixed with cream cheese or sour cream. Their flowers may be cut for arrangements, cut and used as a garnish, or left to delight the bees.
Thyme grows as another spreading, perennial herb which enjoys full sun. It blooms sometimes in summer, and it is a favorite for cooking. A good cheese spread may bee made with chives, thyme leaves, and perhaps a little garlic, minced Rosemary, and freshly ground pepper. Mix these into any combination of soft cream or goat cheeses.
Grape leaves make tasty wraps for various fillings. Our favorite are Greek dolmades, which are stuffed with a mixture of rice and herbs, then steamed. Grape leaves may be eaten raw in salad or added to sandwiches.
Basil leaves remain our favorite summer herb. Eaten raw on a sandwich, pureed into pesto, or cooked with tomatoes, their distinctive flavor sings “summer,” even when enjoyed in February. Their flowers are edible and may be enjoyed as cut flowers or as a garnish. Stems of Basil, mixed in with other flowers in a vase, perfumes the entire room.
Scented Pelargoniums are not only edible, they dry beautifully. Lemon, orange, or rose scented geraniums, as they are called, may be added to home made mixes for tea, used as flavor in baked goods, or may be dried and preserved for their fragrance. Their flowers are edible and may be used to garnish cupcakes. Some Pelargoniums survive the winter for us in Zone 7B. They die back to the ground, but will sometimes come back from their roots in late spring. They are happiest in full sun with moist soil.
Plant all of the mints in full sun. They prefer moist soil, and will spread madly over a summer. Every part of the plant may be eaten fresh or dried. Used mainly to flavor beverages, mints are wonderful fresh or dried in tea. A stand of mint in bloom remains busy with every sort of bee and wasp enjoying the feast of nectar. This chocolate mint has beautiful, distinctive foliage and smells like minty chocolate candy.
A garden may be appreciated by all of our senses, including taste and smell. These wonderfully fragrant herbs contain healing oils and compounds, in addition to their delicious flavors.
Although not a traditional vegetable garden, an herb garden allows us to consume a bit of what we grow and use the plants in many different ways.
Whether bringing cut herbs and flowers indoors to enjoy, making sachet packets to keep moths out of our drawers, blending our own tea, or cutting herbs to add to our food; we come to know these beautiful plants better through frequent use.
Perennial herbs generously offer themselves up season after season, and once planted, remain with us so long as we tend the garden.
Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014